Miami International Airport is closing a terminal this weekend because security screeners have been calling in sick at twice the airport's normal rate as the federal government shutdown stretches toward a fourth week.
Friday marks the first day screeners will miss a paycheck, and airport spokesman Greg Chin said there's a concern there won't be enough workers to handle all 11 checkpoints during normal hours over the weekend.
Chin said Terminal G will close at 1 p.m. Saturday, reopen for flights Sunday morning and close again at 1 p.m. that day. The terminal serves United Airlines along with smaller carriers. Its closure means restaurants and shops that depend on departing flights also will close.
"We felt we had to make a decision before the weekend," Chin said. "They're erring on the side of caution."
Chin told The Miami Herald that some passengers have complained about longer waits, but there've been no abnormal security delays.
The security line outside Terminal G was relatively calm mid-morning Friday where about 20 people waited in line as a single security agent manned the checkpoint.
Jorge Enrique stood in line with his family as they waited to board a flight home to Mexico.
He felt bad for passengers flying this weekend who could be inconvenienced when the terminal closes. He said he was more concerned about the hassle than potential security risks.
"It sucks because if I had a flight arranged for that time ... it's gonna really impact my travel plans," said the 35-year-old who was vacationing in Florida with his wife and son.
Terminal G is the slowest concourse at the airport, with about 12 planes a day flying out after 1 p.m. That's about 3 percent of the roughly 450 flights that depart each day. Terminal G's flights will be diverted to other terminals this weekend.
But Chin said that if the shutdown continues and additional screeners don't show up for work, the airport could be forced to close a security checkpoint at terminals that have multiple entry points, such as Concourse J or Concourse D.
Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com