September 14, 2001Federal workers stranded by airport closings resulting from Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., may use alternate modes of transportation to get home, but affected federal workers must still go through their agencies for approval and use their travel management centers to make reservations or changes to travel plans. The General Services Administration issued a memo on Thursday explaining its travel policy in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Federal employees are usually encouraged to travel by air because it is generally fast, economical, safe and reliable. But, with many federal employees stranded because of airport shutdowns and many who are hesitant to fly because of Tuesday's airplane hijackings, GSA has relaxed the rules and will allow them to use other means of transportation to get home, said Jim Harte, travel team leader at GSA. "Bus, rail, car, whatever way we can get people back home, that's what we're telling people to do, now is not the time to look at cost," Harte said. "Just get people back home and we'll fix it later. We have too many people stranded." Harte emphasized that affected federal workers must still use their travel management centers to make reservations or changes to travel plans and seek agency approval of changes. He cautioned employees against just hopping in cars or onto trains and heading home without consulting with their employers. "There was a traveler stranded in Atlanta, and he didn't wait for his agency, he just jumped in a car and drove to Oklahoma City and they charged him a $1,000 drop off fee," Harte explained, adding that the federal worker would end up paying that fee because he did not have prior agency approval.
September 14, 2001