Arizona TSA checkpoints close amid COVID-19 staffing issues

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will be temporarily closing several security checkpoints starting Friday due to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staffing issues tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TSA and airport said in a joint statement that the temporary closure of two security checkpoints in Terminal 4 was due to “the impacts of COVID on TSA personnel."

The Phoenix Airport said in a tweet on Thursday that TSA checkpoints B and D would be closed beginning at 4 a.m. on Friday while the other two remain open.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Beginning at 4 a.m. Jan, 7, the B & D Security Checkpoints in Terminal 4 will be closed. A & C will remain open. Wait times for non-PreCheck passengers could be up to 30 minutes & passengers should plan their arrivals accordingly,” Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport wrote.

The two noted that they did not anticipate impacts to Terminal 3's security checkpoint.

"We are monitoring this closely, and this situation only seems to affect Phoenix Sky Harbor for now," R. Carter Langston, TSA spokesman, said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Communities and transportation systems have been hard hit by increasing COVID infections, and we continue to encourage those who are ill to stay home and get tested. Compliance with the federal face mask requirement, social distancing, and checkpoint modifications remain in place for those who choose to travel," Langston added. 

Inclement weather and staffing shortages linked to the omicron variant have hurt airlines, which have had to cancel close to 20,000 flights since Christmas Eve. 

Though growing data and research suggest that the omicron variant may not be as severe as public health officials initially worried, the variant is still highly transmissible. 

Close to 3,300 TSA employees alone have been infected with COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to USA Today, which notes it accounts for 5 percent of its employees.

Updated at 9:50 a.m.