Government Shutdown Forces Houston Airport to Close TSA Checkpoint

David J. Phillip

The government shutdown dealt yet another blow to airport security on Sunday, with officials at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport announcing they have been forced to close the security checkpoint in one terminal due to a shortage of TSA agents to screen passengers.

The decision comes two days after airport officials in Miami took similar precautions over the weekend, announcing that one of the smaller terminals at Miami International Airport would close early each day starting on Saturday.

In Houston, officials at the main airport serving the nation’s fourth largest city announced that “due to staffing issues associated with the partial shutdown of the federal government,” a TSA checkpoint and the ticketing counter in Terminal B closed at 3:30 p.m and would remain closed for the rest of the day. After assessing the situation, authorities said Sunday night that the terminal would remain closed at least into Monday. The officials encouraged passengers to “arrive early and give themselves extra time to check in for their flights and to clear the security checkpoints.”  

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Miami International Airport planned to close one of its terminals early this weekend, as more TSA officers, working without paychecks, called in sick, as the partial government shutdown became the longest ever.
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Kaiser Permanente Helps Oakland International Airport Passengers Reduce Stress and Maintain Good Mental Health

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated health care system, has introduced some practical and whimsical ways for passengers departing Terminal 2 at the Oakland International Airport to reduce the stress of air travel and encourage them to stay healthy this busy holiday travel season and beyond. This effort is part of nonprofit Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to the total health of body, mind and spirit of the communities it serves.

Portions of the security checkpoint at OAK Terminal 2 have been transformed to depict some of the most soothing aspects of nature, including the sights and sounds of a California redwood forest, a blue sky filled with clouds, and a 1,500-square foot “living wall” filled with plants that act as natural air filters.

“Our work with the Port of Oakland is a natural extension of our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve,” said Janet Liang, president, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “We understand people have an opportunity to experience good health habits where they live, work, play and in this case, travel. Our airport expression is another example of our commitment to creating positive environments throughout the Bay Area community Kaiser Permanente has called home for almost 75 years.”

The new features at OAK Terminal 2 include:

Living wall of plants with a sign that reads 'thrive - Kaiser Permanente'

Kaiser Permanente has installed a massive living wall at the Oakland International Airport that cleans the air naturally and helps reduce the stress of air travel for passengers.

The living wall: Taking up the entire west wall of the security checkpoint area, the wall contains 34 unique plant species, including 13 that, according to a NASA study, help clean indoor air naturally and improve the ambient environment. 

Bringing the outdoors in: Travelers are greeted by large white clouds suspended from the checkpoint and atrium ceiling. Soothing sounds of nature can be heard from speakers strategically placed near the checkpoint area. Messages on panels throughout the checkpoint encourage passengers to “breathe in,” “relax” and “thrive.”

H2O to go: Passengers will be able to refill their reusable bottles at new hydration stations, installed just past the security checkpoint. The stations dispense premium purified drinking water to help keep passengers hydrated before and during their flight.

These elements are all aimed at alleviating the anxiety, frustration and fear commonly felt by travelers, and they are part of a much broader effort by Kaiser Permanente to improve mental health and wellness in the communities it serves. This larger effort includes, but is not limited to, the Find Your Words public service campaign to de-stigmatize depression and Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Program, which includes efforts to improve the emotional and social well-being of students and staff.

“Support for emotional health and well-being is built into Kaiser Permanente’s overall approach to total health,” said Don Mordecai, MD, the national leader for mental health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente. “Our goal with transforming Terminal 2 is to help improve the travel experience for people and to help them find a bit of calm in what can often be a stressful environment.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Kaiser Permanente’s contribution to the ongoing transformation of Terminal 2 at Oakland International Airport. This uplifting introduction at the screening checkpoint positively influences the early stages of the passenger experience,” said Bryant L. Francis, Port of Oakland director of aviation. “This addition at OAK creates a more relaxing environment for outbound travelers as well as the hundreds of employees based in Terminal 2.”

 

About Oakland International Airport
Oakland International is the fourth busiest airport in California and second busiest in the San Francisco Bay Area. Serving over 13 million travelers annually, OAK is the closest airport to the region’s top business and tourism venues. It is also the closest airport for most local residents. Oakland’s air service roster to over 60 nonstop destinations is offered on 12 different airline brands. The vision of Oakland International Airport is to offer customers a world-class experience and be the airport of choice for Bay Area residents and visitors alike. OAK is operated by the Port of Oakland, which also oversees the Oakland seaport and 20 miles of waterfront. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

 

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