It was a busy Saturday over at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — though not entirely for the reason you may think.
Travelers hoping to get away from the cold for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend packed the lobby and security lines at the Terminal 1, said Patrick Hogan, the director of public affairs for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).
In addition, Delta Air Lines charter flights headed to warmer destinations meant more people at the airport than normal, Hogan said.
"I think the busy holiday weekend, plus the fact that there are these extra charter flights that are being flown to sunny destinations, which we normally don't have on a Saturday morning, is really contributing to the length of the lines," he said.
He was unsure how long the wait times were — the tool that measures them was down because of construction, he said.
In addition, the Transportation Security Administration has been short-staffed at the airport for months, he said. At the same time as travelers were moving along the terminal Saturday, TSA was holding a job fair in Bloomington.
Sunday should be calmer, Hogan said, mainly because charter flights won't be scheduled.
It is the 29th day of the federal government shutdown, which has forced critical TSA employees, such as security officers and supervisors, to work without pay. Hogan said employees have been showing up to work at MSP Airport as normal. "They're just not getting a paycheck," he said.
Celia Hahn, a transportation security officer at MSP and the president of the union that represents federal airport workers, hasn't heard of employees calling in sick or choosing not to show up, as has been the case at other airports across the country.
"For the most part, they're hanging in there," she said. "Everybody is hopeful that this will get resolved and the government will open back up and paychecks will start coming in."
Agencies such as TSA and MAC have given out gas cards and Metro Transit passes and set up a food pantry to help workers. However, she feared the situation would worsen for employees as the shutdown lengthens.
"Everybody so far has mostly managed to survive without the [paycheck] that we've already missed," she said. "But it's only going get worse as it goes on."
Still, Hogan said the busy Saturday wasn't due to the shutdown.
"Every time now people are seeing long lines, their fear or assumption is that it's because of the shutdown," he said. "That has not been the case at MSP so far."