Delays Expected: Tampa fliers feeling effects of FAA furloughs

10:31 AM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Passengers stepping off their flights at Tampa International Airport are feeling the effects of cuts to the FAA that are causing delays all over the country.

Families on jetBlue's last flight of the night Monday from New York to Tampa were supposed to be here at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. Instead, they touched down at around 3:20 a.m.

Passengers were walking around the TIA baggage claim looking drained of all energy as they gathered their luggage and headed to the curb.

See Also: Look up flight information at TIA

Vanessa Mojica was already asking a lot of her five-year old daughter Gianna to handle a flight leaving New York at 9:50 p.m. When it finally flew 2 1/2 hours later, she was mighty wiped out.

Other people seemed so happy to be home in Tampa, they were actually managing smiles, framed by squinting, bleary eyes.

Friends and family picked them up. The last person from that John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport to Tampa flight left the curb and headed for home at 4 a.m.

"They said, 'We apologize for the delay,'" passenger Marta Sanchez said. "'Here's some drinks and some cookies and thank you for your patience.'"

"They didn't tell us what was happening," Mojica said. "They just said air traffic control was delayed. That's it. It was tiring."

It looks like a combination of air traffic control being short-staffed and runway construction work made life miserable at JFK in New York.

Air traffic controllers are being forced to take unpaid days off across the United States because of sequestration budget cuts.

So to keep passengers safe, the FAA says it has to space planes further apart. That keeps the traffic manageable.

At Atlanta and O'Hare in Chicago -- America's two busiest airports -- a whole runway may be taken out of service because of furloughs and staffing problems in air traffic control.

The worst delays are expected with flights surrounding 13 hubs, although problems can certainly trickle down into other airports.

The unlucky 13? All three main New York City airports of LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark; Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco in California; O'Hare and Midway in Chicago; Miami and Ft. Lauderdale in Florida; Atlanta; Philadelphia; and Charlotte.

Security screenings do not appear to be affected; the FAA and travel advisors do not seem to be telling travelers to arrive exceptionally early for their flights. But once you're at the airport, there's a chance you'll be there for a while.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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