Sequestration could make airports less secure - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Sequestration could make airports less secure

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - If lawmakers don't reach a compromise, $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts are set to kick in on Friday. One of the agencies that could be impacted is the TSA.

Some experts are predicting hiring freezes and furloughs that could mean long waits at airport security checkpoints.

If you thought airport security was bad before, just wait, and wait, and wait some more.

"The security arrangements are already cumbersome. I understand, we've come to accept them, but it's just going to get worse, which means waking up earlier when I travel and more inconvenience," frequent flyer Craig Bennett said.

If the sequester becomes a reality Friday, the TSA says it will be forced to furlough workers and cut all overtime, which means less security screeners, resulting in longer lines.

"It's frustrating because you feel like there's nothing you can do about it," Bennett said.

But getting to your plane is just part of the problem. Taking off is another. The sequester will force furloughs for air traffic controllers, which means less planes can be in the air at once, making long delays inevitable.

"Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and others could experience delays up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we have fewer controllers on staff," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

And if you're flying out of the country, you'll hit more delays when you step off the plane when you return.

"Average wait times to clear customs will increase by as much as 50 percent at our busiest airports like Newark, JFK, LAX. Other peak wait times, which can reach over two hours, could easily grow to four hours or more," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

Passengers say members of Congress should be grounded, not planes. Their actions -- or lack of actions -- on budget cuts shows they're putting politics before people.

"Whatever their issue is, they can't seem to resolve it. They should go to marriage counseling," a traveler said.

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