How A Government Shutdown Would Affect Air Travel


A government shutdown was narrowly avoided when the deadline neared on October 01, 2023. Even though the government has remained open, the possibility of a shutdown remains as only a stopgap funding bill was passed. Should the government shutdown happen, one thing it will affect is travel, and it will be around the holidays. Here’s what you should know.

What Is A Stopgap Bill? How Long Will It Last?

A stopgap measure is a temporary substitute until something can replace it. The stopgap measure that was voted on and approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, then signed by President Biden, will keep the government running for 45 days from the October 01, 2023 deadline.

This means the government will stay open, for now.

However, the government is only funded until November 17, 2023. If Congress doesn’t approve a funding bill by that time, the government will shut down. Until a bill is passed, the government will remain shut.

Republican in-fighting was the reason for the potential shutdown in September 2023. And the removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy adds to the disorder and problems of what might be another shutdown. Activity in the House of Representatives is on hold as a speaker is needed to bring legislation to the floor. The speaker is also third in line for presidency after the vice president.

How Would A Government Shutdown Affect Air Travel

A government shutdown would hurt many, including travelers. Not only would destinations like national parks be likely to close, but passports may take longer to process and there could be severe delays when traveling due to less staff available.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and air traffic controllers are considered essential workers and would continue to work. However, with a shutdown, they would be furloughed, meaning they’d be working without pay.

During a previous government shutdown that lasted 35 days, employees had to find additional work to support themselves and their families. Some had to miss work, which caused delays and missed flights.

The White House has also warned that the training of new air traffic controllers would be put on hold during a time when a shortage of employees is critical. Additionally, the stopgap bill is set to expire in mid-November, which is right before the busy holiday travel season.


A U.S. government shutdown would hurt many industries, including travel. Air travel would likely be affected as employees would be working without pay and employee training would be on hold until a funding bill is passed. The government is currently funded until November 17, 2023, and a shutdown would likely affect holiday travel. Allow for plenty of time when planning travel this holiday season.

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