News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, April 22, 2013
Augusta Regional Airport. (November 17, 2010 / WRDW-TV)
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Approximately 47,000 air traffic controllers are beginning to take their furlough days, and the empty seats are already beginning to take a toll on travelers. Some are feeling it in Augusta.
"We have not seen an effect of the furloughs as of yet," said Lauren Smith, the Augusta Regional Airport communications manager.
But that's only when it comes to who's manning local towers. For local travelers, however, it's a different story.
"Well, I'm supposed to be going to Newport News, Va.," said Amy Gates. "My flight is delayed now about two hours.
Gates hops on a plane out of Augusta about three times a month for work.
She's been at Augusta Regional since 3:30 p.m. and is now in for an even longer wait.
"It's caused me to miss my connection in Atlanta," she said. "So they've had to reschedule that flight that was supposed to leave at 7:30 is now leaving at 10:30."
Airlines across the country are reporting delays as today marks the first weekday of the furloughs mandated by the FAA.
It's 10 percent cut, forcing thousands of air traffic controllers to take an unpaid day off.
"I got a message from Delta that my flight was delayed two hours, and I just made the assumption that it was because of that," Gates said.
Delta is publicly warning customers of delays at major airports caused by the controller cuts -- delays caused by cuts Gates feels are unnecessary.
"I think the government has chosen to cause things that are more apparent to the public almost as a punishment," she explained. "[Such as] 'Look what we're doing, aren't you all affected,' instead of doing things that maybe make more sense."
Some say delays will happen anyway ... cuts or no cuts.
"You're going to have delays for whatever reason, it could be storms, but I think that's just part of traveling," said Bill Gray, also traveling out of Augusta Regional.
As for Gates, she says she could deal with weather delays but having to wait because of federal cuts is a tough pill to swallow.
"If I don't get on that flight at 10:30, then I miss the meeting that I'm supposed to be at in the morning," she said. "[That] completely ruins my entire reason for going and affects my income."
Two airline groups have set up a website to help you speak up. Click here for this information.