The TSA is apparently calling in the backups — the very, very young backups.
A viral image that spread across Twitter on Friday showed what appeared to be a pre-teen boy donning a TSA uniform and sorting luggage at the airport. The picture was posted just as the FAA announced nationwide delays at airports due to the partial government shutdown, which has led to a surge in sick absences among air traffic controllers and other airport staff.
As WMTW reported, the delays affected a number of major airports, including LaGuardia in New York.
“We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two air traffic control facilities affecting New York and Florida,” the FAA said in a statement on Friday morning, shortly after the viral picture of the child TSA agent was posted. “As with severe storms, we will adjust operations to a safe rate to match available controller resources.”
The picture was posted by Twitter user @2forme0foryou, who did not provide much more context about where or when it was taken. The picture made it appear as if it were something a little more serious than “take your child to work day,” as the boy had donned blue rubber gloves — and was helping go through items placed in a bin — as passengers made their way through metal detectors.
The viral picture prompted plenty of questions — was this picture actually taken during the partial government shutdown? Was the child really working as a TSA agent — and if so, then where did he get a child-sized TSA uniform? Was it maybe just an extremely young-looking adult?
Bruh they got kids helping TSA now pic.twitter.com/hIEcoK5TnN
— Culuh Munay (@2forme0foryou) January 25, 2019
The picture also drew some news coverage nationwide, with some finding it concerning — and others finding it hilarious.
“Let’s just pray this is a stunt,” Travel Noire noted.
Others noted that if the picture was real, it seems like a very big security concern to have a child potentially sorting through dangerous contraband. If someone tried to sneak a bomb onto a plane, the child would be the first line of defense.
The young TSA agent will likely get to go home early on Friday. Donald Trump announced in the morning that he had reached a deal to end the government shutdown for three weeks, while attempting to cut a deal on his demand for a border wall. There were reports that the potential gridlock at airports was putting pressure on the White House to end the shutdown, and apparently no amount of youthful-looking federal employees was going to help the situation.