Travel agents began advising local clients about the potential impact of the government sequestration on travel back in February when it became apparent that the deadlock between the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama would continue past the deadline. According to U.S. Government sources, most of the projected furloughs are commencing this month.

“To date, we have seen no change in booking behaviors or patterns as a result of the sequester, and this extends to forward bookings as well,” stated Christopher Weatherhead, Weatherhead of Montecito Village Travel “In February, we began proactively notifying clients that government agencies were warning of the potential impact for longer wait times at both airport security and customs and immigration from furloughs of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel.

Various federal agencies have been warning that the sequestration will dramatically cut the number of air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel at airport security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, many of whom would be furloughed from their respective operations. In turn, furloughed air traffic controllers could potentially mean a sharp reduction in the number of airline flights allowed to depart with a significant number being canceled. Furloughed TSA personnel could mean substantially longer lines at airport screening. Furloughed CBP personnel could mean very long lines at customs at both airports and cruise terminals.

“Now that April has arrived – in addition to the assistance we providing in helping monitor our clients’ flight schedules – we are actively advising them to take note of airport wait times. They should allow for extra time, not only when checking-in for their flights, but also when passing through security screening and boarding,” Weatherhead explained. “Additionally, we’re providing smart travel tips and advice for how our clients can pass through security screening more expeditiously, and we’re also counseling them on the benefits of enrolling in the CBP’s Global Entry program, which gives them automatic access to TSA’s Precheck program and can dramatically reduce time spent waiting in lines.”

Major U.S. airlines, which through two trade associations last Friday sought a federal-court stay to halt the furloughs, were dealt a blow after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the same day denied the emergency motion.

In a statement Sunday, the FAA said it “will be working with the airlines and using a comprehensive set of air traffic management tools to minimize the delay impacts of lower staffing as we move into the busy summer travel season.”

Alaska Air also said it will allow customers who miss flights to rebook when space is available, with no increase in fare or change fees, and asked customers to check in for domestic flights two hours in advance.

To learn more visit the experienced travel experts at Montecito Village Travel at 3329 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA or simply call 805-969-5096.


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