I have generally been in support of air marshals . But some of the arguements made by some of the above has made me rethink this.I find the arguement that terrorists could take hostages as human shields and use it to overwhelm one or two air marshalls (they will be seated in different parts of the plane) obtain their weapons is a very strong arguement against AM. Now I am not so sure if AM are a good idea!
I remain convinced of the usefulness of air marshals, and am not impressed by the arguments given here (or by the attempts of some to say that because they were in military reserve, etc., everyone else should shut up and defer to them).
The El Al comparison is completely valid. The threat faced by the US and Europe is certainly "constant," and the US has been implementing "integrated" multi-level security more like Europe or Israel uses, since 9/11.
Why is the professional training of marshals so useless as to merit the snide dismissal several posters have offered? And yeah, I guess only posters on Airliners.net think about things like human shields; hope the FBI and DHS read this forum, or we're all in trouble. Yeah, air marshals of course would all be seated in a bunch, ready to be picked off. Again, only Airliners.net posters think of these things. A lot of this thread simply seems to represent European bias against guns and self-defense.
Thomas Cook air, of course, is free to do what they like. Other airlines are free to replace them. I'll take my chances with air marshals, thank you.