The TSA then issued a statement cautioning that while wait times "may be affected", they now "remain well within TSA standards" and "security effectiveness will not be compromised" - not necessarily a reassuring statement, given the TSA's "standards" for both wait times and security.
The call outs are "creating a vulnerability" and screeners are "doing more with less", Johnson said. TSA employees fall in the latter category because they are considered essential.
"This will definitely affect the flying public who we [are] sworn to protect", Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, told CNN.
Union officials suggested that while some people were calling off to protest the lack of pay, others had to work additional jobs to pay bills or care for their children.
Jonathan Dean, a BWI spokesman, said the airport is "monitoring the situation and working closely with our TSA counterpart".
"Due to the partial government shutdown, the Department of Homeland Security of which the Transportation Security Administration is a component, has not been funded", Farbstein said in an automated email response. The spokesperson said 99.8% of 2.2 million passengers screened on January 3 waited less than 30 minutes.
Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman for the Baltimore area, said she is on furlough until further notice as a non-essential employee.
The airline declined to comment about the delays and the possible effects the government shutdown may be having on travel. Reports say the impasse could possibly last weeks to years.
Other passengers said the delays at LaGuardia, which is under a massive rebuilding construction project already, reached a new low.
And TSA is bracing for more call outs next week, according to veteran field officials.
In what one official dubbed the "blue flu", hundreds of blue-uniformed TSA officials have been calling out sick in recent days as the shutdown stretches on and their salaries go unpaid.
On Thursday and Friday, more than 4 million travelers nationwide were screened, Bilello said. At New York's LaGuardia and JFK airports, travelers can check the security wait times at their gates before they leave for the airport. Airports struggling to staff checkpoints may also start reducing the number of lanes open to passengers, which will likely mean longer lines and waiting times.
Officers could even be forced to loosen standards for checked baggage, experts told CNN.