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Massive storm, strained airports expected to snarl weekend travel

CBS News logo CBS News 1/18/2019 CBSNews

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More than 100 million Americans are in the path of a winter storm system that will sweep across the country this weekend with heavy snow is expected from the Central Plains to the Northeast. Behind it, the coldest air in nearly a year.

The winter storm this holiday weekend is likely to cause big problems at airports across the country. All major U.S. airlines are allowing passengers due to fly in the path of the system to change their flights for free. The storm is likely to add to the stress that airport workers feel because of the government shutdown, now in its 28th day. 

How long you have to wait at your local airport comes down to how many screeners can afford to work another day without pay, reports CBS News' Kris Van Cleave.

Dozens of protesters in Honolulu's airport demanded an end to the government shutdown and paychecks for some of the 2,700 federal workers in Hawaii.

Slideshow by USA Today

The TSA continues to struggle with staffing as officers nationwide are calling out, unable to afford working without pay. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, TSA screeners lined up to get free groceries from a nonprofit. "This right here means a lot because, I mean, not a lot of people are thinking how hard it's affecting us, until they're like you know what, we don't know how long this is going to be," TSA worker Hannah Morrison said. 

Everyday people dropped off donations at Orlando's airport and in Houston, help came in the form of a food truck.

A nonprofit there gave away 300 free lunches to TSA workers outside Bush Intercontinental Airport. In Sacramento, California, Governor Gavin Newsom met with TSA officers and other airport workers burning through their savings. He announced California would offer furloughed workers unemployment benefits despite the U.S. Labor Department saying the state did not have the right to do so.

a group of people standing in a room: nfa-van-cleave-airline-shutdown-needs-tracks-frame-251.jpg © Credit: CBSNews nfa-van-cleave-airline-shutdown-needs-tracks-frame-251.jpg In the Bay Area, San Jose is offering short-term, no-interest loans of up to $7,500 for unpaid airport employees. "We recognize it's our role to operate a safe airport and you can't do that without air traffic controllers, customs inspectors and TSA officials," Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

Airlines are pitching in, too. United Airlines bought lunch for TSA employees at Reagan National Airport on Thursday.

If the shutdown continues into the middle of next week, TSA workers will miss their second paycheck.

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