Bradley International Airport

TSA Worker Vaccine Mandate Scheduled to Start Right Before Thanksgiving

Some worry the mandate will lead to a shortage of workers at the start of the busy holiday travel season.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The delays at Bradley International Airport weren’t in the sky on Wednesday, but on the ground.  Passengers complained that the garage and nearby parking lot were full, leading to longer walks and shuttle rides to the airport.

Ed Tavino of Southbury travels in and out of Bradley for business every week.  He said he’s had a hard time finding parking close to the airport recently.

“It feels more pre-pandemic like.  People are out and about,” said Tavino.

“Onsite I’ve never parked that far away,” said William Johnson who parked in the second to last row in the express parking lot after the garage filled up.  “It was unexpected."

Johnson also travels out of Bradley on business frequently. 

“Clearly this is an afternoon flight and a popular flight and you can see the lines,” he said standing next to the security check-point.

An impending vaccine mandate could make the already busy holiday travel season even more complicated this year.

The federal government is requiring all federal workers, including TSA agents, comply with a vaccine mandate by November 22.  That’s three days before Thanksgiving. 

The union representing them, the American Federation of Government Employees, sent a letter to the White House asking that deadline be delayed until after the holidays.”

The letter notes that federal contractors and private employers have until January 4 to comply with the mandate.

“This double standard has caused confusion and distress among federal employees…” said Everett Kelley, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "Setting different compliance deadlines for employees and contractors who work side-by-side is both harmful to morale and substantively unjustified.”

“Federal agencies, including TSA, are laser-focused on vaccinating their workforce ahead of the November 22nd deadline for Federal employees," a TSA spokesperson said in a statement. "Like other Federal agencies, we are continuing to collect updated vaccination information from employees as we approach the deadline.”

Bradley International Airport security lines Wednesday afternoon.

“I think it’s gonna be a mess.  I think it’s gonna be an inconvenience to people who are trying to work for a living,” said Tavino.

“Delays, cancelations, I actually shortened my trip just because of that,” added Johnson.

Johnson was supposed to return on the 22nd.  He changed his flight to the day before to avoid a potential headache.

“I just didn’t want to get stuck in the airport,” he said.

Tavino, who works in the biotech industry and was traveling to Dallas on Wednesday, said he couldn’t let the potential inconvenience stop him from flying in the future.

“No, I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got to pay my bills,” he said. “Just give yourself enough time.  I think just be patient.  It’s not the people who work here, it’s not their fault for the jam up.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Bradley Airport officials, and the airlines to find out more about the potential impact locally.

An airport spokesperson says they are still finalizing their Thanksgiving holiday travel projections and will address the media jointly with the TSA on November 18.

The airlines are reminding folks to allow plenty of time to check in, check bags, and move through the security checkpoint.

Contact Us