Most of us have been unfortunate enough to face delays at the airport for mechanical difficulties or bad weather. But now, get ready for the sequestration delay.
To save hundreds of millions of dollars, the FAA is preparing to furlough staff and close air traffic control towers at smaller Airports including Santa Monica, Fullerton, Riverside, and Oxnard.
But just because the list doesn’t include bigger airports like LAX or Long Beach doesn’t mean you won’t be affected.
“Imagine construction on 1-10,” said Mario Rodriguez, director of Long Beach Airport. “The highways in the air will go from six lanes to four lanes.”
Rodriguez says there will be fewer “lanes” because fewer air traffic controllers will be on duty.
“There’s only so much air traffic a controller can manage, either landing or taking off or en route,” said Rodriguez. “The FAA will reduce the capacity of the system based on safety for obvious reasons and based upon personnel they have available.”
The Transportation Department has warned that travelers could face delays of an hour and a half during peak hours.
And making matters worse, you can expect longer lines in the airport. The Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection would also cut back on staff if the automatic spending cuts take effect Friday.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t happen, but if it does we’re prepared,” said Rodriguez.
Many airlines are also getting ready for sequestration.
“We’re staying on top of it and taking a look at how it might impact customers,” said Marianne Lindsey, spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines.
Despite the warnings from the Transportation Department, Lindsey says Alaska isn’t expecting any sequestration-related cancellations or delays at most airports.
A spokesperson for Airlines for America, an industry trade group, would only say the situation is “fluid” and airlines are working on minimizing the impact of the budget cuts on travelers.