The government shutdown has left the TSA understaffed at some airports. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Instead of spending the first day of class on campus, Aurora Song and Xuan Zhao spent the day stuck in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, more than 1,000 miles away.

They were among the countless travelers who have experienced delays as a result of the partial government shutdown that reached its 27th day on Thursday.  

Large amounts of Transportation and Security Administration workers have started to call off work — according to news sources — and many who are still working are doing so without compensation due to the lack of federal funding.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, the delays can range from 15 minutes to more than two hours for travelers.

With TSA workers unavailable to process travelers entering the United States from Mexico, the passengers on Song and Zhao’s flight were not able to leave the plane for 30 minutes after landing.

“I didn’t think too much [about the delay] but people around me were really mad because I think their flights were earlier than mine,” Song, a fourth-year in journalism, said. “I still had an hour so I thought I would be able to catch it.”

Waiting on the plane and for customs officials caused Song and Zhao to miss their connecting flight back to Columbus.

“It made trouble though because the second day, flights to Columbus were sold out so we had to switch our flight to Cleveland just to come back on time. That was a bit annoying,” Song said.

Song and Zhao did not incur a fee to change their flight destination, but did have to split the $130 hotel cost to stay in Fort Lauderdale overnight.

“The flight company gave us a discount [for the hotel], but obviously everyone missed their flight, so the hotels were full,” Zhao, a fourth-year in mathematics, said. “We finally paid the full payment for a Holiday Inn.”

Song and Zhao had to rely on a friend to make the four-hour round trip from Columbus to Cleveland the night of Jan. 8.

This costly and time-consuming delay contributed to Song and Zhao missing two days of classes.

Song said she was not prepared for the shutdown to affect her travel back to Columbus.

“I did read about the government shutdown in the news,” Song said. “But I didn’t know how it would take effect anywhere until I was actually in the airport and saw how things work.”