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TSA vaccine mandate deadline could cause longer lines before Thanksgiving

Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 22, 2021

BOZEMAN — At the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of people weren’t traveling. But now that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“We kind of crossed over into record territory in April and we’ve been handling record numbers of passengers ever since,” said Brian Sprenger, airport director.

This year, the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport has seen the most passengers ever.

“Right now, we’ve handled about 1.7 million passengers to date, and that compares to the best year ever that we had at about 1.6 million, and we still have October, November and December,” Sprenger pointed out.

An increase in passengers usually means an increase in wait times, and that could soon be even more since TSA employees could lose their jobs if they are not vaccinated by November 22nd.

“Right now we’re feeling relatively, cautiously optimistic that it won’t have any impacts but it’s individual in nature and we’ll know more when we get to that time frame,” Sprenger said.

The November 22nd deadline is the Monday before Thanksgiving, one of the most popular travel times across the country which brings the question if there are fewer TSA agents to work, would you be willing to arrive at the airport earlier than 2 hours?

“When you’re already two hours, it seems like you’re already at the outside limit for what it should be," said passenger John Mintzer. "When you don’t know what TSA’s going to do, it makes it really hard to figure out what you do in terms of getting to the airport on time.”

“I think it depends where you’re flying, what you’re flying out of," said another passenger, Mir Bear-Johnson. "I fly from a little airport so I usually get there about an hour beforehand right now because there’s just never that much traffic, but I’ve lived in cities with much bigger airports where even though they say two hours, I always got there 4 hours ahead.”

Again that deadline for TSA employees is November 22nd.

TSA employees are civilian federal government workers. Therefore, they are required to adhere to federal regulations and are not protected under Montana's anti-discrimination of vaccine status law.

TSA vaccine mandate deadline could cause longer lines before Thanksgiving


More than 10,000 TSA workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since beginning of pandemic