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Weary Travelers Arrive At DIA With Sequester-Induced Flight Headaches

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Joe Piscopo talks with CBS4's Tom Mustin. (credit: CBS)

Joe Piscopo talks with CBS4’s Tom Mustin. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Comedian Joe Piscopo commandeered CBS4’s cameras at Denver International Airport on Wednesday in order to tell the story of how he had to endure a painful plane delay.

It’s a story many airline passengers nationwide have been telling to anyone who will listen in recent days.

“Oh my gosh, it was awful,” said Piscopo, who was flying to Denver from New Jersey.

“I couldn’t get out of Newark! I couldn’t run out quick enough, you know? I walked here!” he joked.

The former Saturday Night Live regular was among the weary travelers at DIA Wednesday with plenty to say about the government sequester-induced flight delays.

Nearly 15,000 air traffic controllers have been furloughed after Congressional budget cuts. Those cuts have caused major headaches for travelers nationwide.

“I just don’t think we should be caught in the middle of all of the politics, whatever they’re dealing with,” air passenger Sharon Groins told CBS4 Wednesday.

Denver International Airport on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

Denver International Airport on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

Airports in Chicago, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Washington have already been hit hard by the cuts.

DIA spokeswoman Stacy Stegman said there have been no major layoffs or problems at DIA, but that could change.

“Denver is the fifth busiest airport in the United States. So when there are impacts in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, we’ll see a residual effect,” Stegman said.

“These guys are probably going to get voted out of office,” said David Justice, another passenger at DIA. Justice’s flight landed in Denver five hours later than it was supposed to.

“I think that our Congress has really blown it,” he said.

“Maybe we should strike as citizens,” Piscopo said, only half-joking. “Let’s all not fly for a week, and then let’s see what happens. Then we’ll have air traffic controllers.”

DIA officially announced that it may be weeks before the airport actually feels any major effects, but hopefully that will be a moot point because there’s an ongoing effort to fix the problem in Washington.

White House officials said they are willing to consider legislation that would give the administration the flexibility to avoid furloughs of air traffic controllers. They are calling it a band aid measure that wouldn’t address other automatic cuts that kicked in last month.

Frontier Airlines announced a change this week for its ticket holders as they anticipate delays due to the federal budget cuts. The airline says that because of those cuts they have increased their minimum check-in time for domestic flights to 45 minutes.

That’s just the first step of what could be a frustrating journey for their customers and other airlines’ customers this summer.

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