squirrel83
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Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:17 am

Its been some time from the begining of the Air Marshal Program has been introduced . .

What is your overall opinion?
Do you think we really need them?
Are they more of a nuisance?

I know on every flight I have ever been on where there are Air Marshals the flight attendants complain and/or question them in a sarcastic tone . . And I quote "aren't you guys required to enter the aircraft with the passengers or low profile?" This is after they entered with the flight crew . . Or the following "No no no no There are too many Guns on Board I will not fly with this."

. . . They just seem really unwanted. . . Should it be the airlines choice to carry air marshals? Or the flight crews? Or the passengers?

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/today/sky.htm#am

They may be easy to spot, but there aren't as many as thought: Previously, we've told you about the supposedly undercover air marshals who actually stand out in any crowd because of federal dress-code policies and other government issues. Now, it's claimed air marshals may actually protect less than 5% of daily U.S. flights. "They are flying on a relatively limited number of flights due to availability," Stephen Luckey, chairman of the national security committee of the Air Lines Pilots Association, tells The Washington Times. The number of federal air marshals is classified and the Department of Homeland Security refuses to discuss it, but government officials are on record as saying that most planes would be protected. But that doesn't hold up, according to The Times. The paper spoke to a number of marshals, pilots and a retired executive who say there are fewer than 3,500 air marshals to protect 35,000 daily flights. With sick days, vacations and training, that means only 500-1,000 flights a day are protected — which some say could drop the number of flights with air marshals even lower than 5%. "What good is it if [marshals] are only on 1% of the flights?" said one federal air marshal. A briefing paper released by the Homeland Security Department two years after the 9/11 attack said: "Today, thousands of air marshals fly on tens of thousands of flights each month on a wide variety of routes and aircraft." Posted at 8 a.m. ET
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NIKV69
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:21 am

We most certainly need them as well as arming our pilots. It is the only way.
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squirrel83
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:22 am

Is it the only way? Or is it that no one wants to try anything else? You really think that 2 people in first or biz class are really going to be able to do anything? Or make a impact if something were to happen in the air?

They are just getting a free ride, and/or taking up seats . .
I am all for arming the pilots . .Personally I would trust the pilot rather than the Air Marshall, I mean you should look at some of them, they aren't the Brightest Crayons in the Crayon box. .

Why do some airports grant Security clearance to the US Air Marshals and some don't?


[Edited 2004-08-17 00:36:33]
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NIKV69
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:24 am

Such as? These people in the middle east want us here in the US dead. So it is basically war. How else do you fight these people? Arm the pilot's, air marshals and the cockpit doors. End of story.
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:41 am

I don't get two things-

First, why plant a covert agent? Make it a full display of force, sit a guy with body armor with a fully automatic tazer gun or hell just frozen paintballs in a jump seat between the F cabin and the cockpit. "Hey, I'm here and you're not getting past me biach!"

Second, why only on select flights? While I'd hate to be the poor s.o.b that tries to hijack a flight with an air marshal, they're are pleanty of flights without them.
 
ltbewr
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:43 am

There is probably no real alternative but to have the possibility of Air Marshalls on even relatively few flights. If you are a potential terrorist, do you want to take the chance of being on an a/c with a marshall aboard? As much as anything the possibility of mashall on given flight can act as a deterrent. As to arming the pilots, they have enough of a job to fly the a/c, besides not playing anti-terror cop if the need arises. As many have military backgrounds, they are probably better than average of fighting off potential terrorists and generally know how to use and treat guns with respect. More important for pilots are the other measures already taken such as hardened doors and procedures when pilots have to take potty breaks. There have been a number of situations where unruly pax have been subject to the actions of air marshalls. I can understand many people's anexiety of ANY gun on an aircraft, and indeed there is the risk of a marshall's gun being taken away from them and used by a terrorist or crazy pax, but we are dealing with trying to keep the a/c flying safely and our economy going despite the war being waged by some very sick, politically and religiously motivated fools.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:06 am

Is it the only way? Or is it that no one wants to try anything else?

Try what? Seriously - I haven't seen any alternatives to the air marshall program suggested. What would you do instead to protect passengers from hijackers in the cabin? Arm all the passengers? I mean, what, man?

I'm not sure if I agree with the idea of arming pilots (in fact I'm pretty sure I don't), but air marshalls are trained law enforcement officers whose job it is to conduct counter-terrorist operations. I want them on my flight whenever I'm flying, that's for sure. We should have had them years ago; it shouldn't have taken 9/11 to bring them around, since 9/11 was far from the first hijacking we've ever had (obviously, hijackings were not generally considered automatically lethal before that, but still).

I don't believe the people who say a hijacking could never work again because the passengers themselves would rise up... on 9/11, the terrorists purposely chose lightly-loaded airplanes with few passengers, and if it ends up 30 vs. 10 but those 10 have weapons, forget it. They could kill every single passenger and still have a few guys left to crash the plane into a building. No, I want air marshalls who are trained to deal with these sorts of situations and who are better armed than terrorists are.

As for guns on airplanes, there have been several shootings on airplanes, as well as a pretty nice (and dramatic) test done on the Mythbusters show - it's not nearly as dangerous as some people think it is. The danger is in someone important getting shot, not explosive decompression... which is why I don't really like the idea of pilots having guns (law enforcement is not their job, they're not trained very well in it and they're probably more likely to shoot each other or themselves than any terrorist). But if you can give me an expert marksman on my plane who also happens to be on the side of the good guys, I'll take him any day of the week.
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artsyman
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:31 am

While I do know that it has been an issue to the airlines to have to give up the free tickets for all the air marshalls on the flights, I have yet to ever hear a crew complain about it. Everyone of them I know is happy to have them onboard.

J
 
CaptOveur
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:45 am

If it is a federal requirement to put the air marshall on a certain flight and he HAS to be in first class.. why not have the gov pay for the price of the ticket.. What good is airline security if it bankrupts our airlines.
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ua777222
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:48 am

Good question indeed.

It seems like the only times we hear of incidents involving Air Marshals is when they leave a gun in their seat or arrest a drunk passenger who was too loud. We never hear of them actually being used. But I guess if you don't hear about it then it's working....

Thanks...

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Starlionblue
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:52 am

Second, why only on select flights? While I'd hate to be the poor s.o.b that tries to hijack a flight with an air marshal, they're are pleanty of flights without them.

That would cost way more than the tax payers are ready to pay.


There is no airtight system. Security scans, air marshals on some flights, reinforced cockpit doors combined with intelligence work make terrorism much more difficult, but not impossible.

I will be the first to admit that I would be mighty annoyed if terrorists took over MY flight, but I would, all things considered, rather live in a free society than one that checked everything and eliminated the threat thus. In the end, the chances of dying in a terrorist attack on a plane are about as low as dying in a plane crash (ie almost insignificant), and much lower than the risks I take every day driving. This argument doesn't help those who actually die in a terrorist attack, but do we really want to change our way of life around this? That would mean that "they" win.

EDIT: I would add that I am for Air Marshals, but only if they know what they are doing.



[Edited 2004-08-17 03:55:14]
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NWAFA
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:55 am

NIKV69,

I agree with you that we need them! As far as arming the Pilots, NO WAY! I do not agree with it one bit! Actually it scares me! The ones that I have flown with that are armed, seem crazy!

Lord I hope it does not happen, if something like 9/11 happened all over again, the armed pilots would be too busy trying to play Cowboy's and Indians and want to shoot INSTEAD of doing what they are there for, FLYING THE PLANE!
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NIKV69
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:08 am

Your airline employs pilots that seem crazy? That is a problem. As for pilot's that are not "crazy" arm them and train them. This along with air marshals and good screening is the only way we can ensure no more hijackings.

Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
StevenUhl777
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:24 am

You really think that 2 people in first or biz class are really going to be able to do anything?

Yes, I do, as a matter of fact. Post 9/11, there will always be someone like Todd Beamer, Mark Burnett, et. al. on every flight...someone will have the initiative to try to organize some level of resistance...to the extent they're successful depends on the particular group of people. While #93 never landed again, it also didn't 'land' in the Capitol building or White House, either. Some pax on the AA flight with Richard Reid didn't bat an eyelash to help the f/a subdue him and helped prevent disaster.

As for guns, I'm in favor of it IF, and only IF, those pilots have been trained on gun safety first, then in an aircraft setting. Having a law saying you can have a gun on the flight deck and being able to safely and properly use it when necessary is quite another. NWAFA makes a very valid point...pilots are there to ensure the aircraft is flying safely at all times, and that's their only job. In general, I'm a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, though I have to admit I too was wary of pilots being allowed to have one, which isn't the case on all flights...it's voluntary right now.
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bsu747
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:26 am

Why can't the Air Marshall sit in the jump seat, that way it won't cost the airline the lost revenue of a usually premium seat.
They can escort the pilot when he needs to go to the rest room, OK that might mean that people would know who the Marshall is but I thought he is mainly there to prevent access to the flightdeck, if an incident happens in the main cabin, all they have to do is divert to the nearest airport.
If a flight has 2 air Marshalls surely it would be better to have one in the flight deck and one in the main cabin.
I know flight crews might object to marshalls in the flightdeck but I am under the impression that they are mainly to protect the flight crew and to a lesser degree the passengers and flight attendents.
Personally I could not give a monkeys if I had a marshall on my flight or not.
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lorm
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:36 am

Think of some of the Arab nations with the guys on the planes toting automatic rifles, like Air Jordianian. I wouldn't want to piss them off! I'm sure they are more of a deterant than anything. Although I wouldn't want to be on a plane with anyone with a loaded gun. Especially if it causes a rapid decompression if bullets go through the aircraft skin... yikes...
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StevenUhl777
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:40 am

Why can't the Air Marshall sit in the jump seat

An air marshall is not an FAA qualified airman/airwoman. Have to be a licensed pilot, a mechanic with run-up/taxi qualifications travelling on company business if no seat available, or a company exec. to sit up there. My Dad (now a retired UA mechanic) used to ride jumpseat pre-9/11, but even then he needed the captain's permission after giving a very good reason for it.

And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:11 pm

That's an FAA regulation, not an operational requirement. I have been in the jumpseat several times for landing (most of them pre-9/11) but in Europe. The only requirement the Captain had was that I demonstrate that I could get the jumpseat (and myself) out of the way for an evacuation, and when you think about it that's really all that should be needed for safe jumpseating.

The whole problem of cockpit incursion would be solved by completely sealing the cockpit area in flight. This would of course mean a dedicated crapper, and an adjoining pilot rest area on flights with several crews. A space and weight penalty would be incurred, but there would be no opportunity to enter the cockpit. Of course, a hijacker could start killing pax and cabin crew in order to "convince" the pilots, but anyone with half a brain could figure out opening the cockpit door would still be a bad idea despite this. Of course, one could make a completely separate outer door for the cockpit crew, and not have an internal connection at all, but that would incur a further weight penalty, and the reengineering of old planes would be prohibitively expensive.
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BCAL
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:33 pm

As far as we know, El Al has had air marshals on all their flights and they have been successful so far, so this would say that if the air marshals are as highly trained and effective as those on El Al, then they are definitely needed. Of course, we would never know if the El Al air marshals travel disguised as passengers, whether they sit in first or economy class, and if their pilots are also armed.

The difference with El Al is that their extra security measures are, I believe, met by the Israeli Government, something that will have to change should El Al transfer into private ownership.

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
 
7LBAC111
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:35 pm

This is a very good point. And an excellent topic to discuss!

First, why plant a covert agent? Make it a full display of force, sit a guy with body armor with a fully automatic tazer gun

In the UK I'm not sure we even have such things as Air Marshalls (someone will put me right) but I think we should. And I agree with the statement above - make them visible, sit them in a crew type seat between First and the cockpit. Or at least one of them. If hijackers know there is an Air Marshall on board they may be much more reluctant to act. If there is one highly visible and maybe two or three covert agents - at random seats in random cabins on flights - I am sure we'd see the risk of terrorist atrocities reduced.

Now about the cost. Perhaps on a few flights with a small F cabin, the lost revenue would be significant. But surely this is offset by the potential risk reduction the sky marshall presents? On longhaul flights, a small increase in the fare is, IMO, a small price to pay for our safety. I dont however see why they should always sit in First.

And also these sky marshalls will provide reassurance to other passengers who have the misfortune of having drunk and disorderly passengers on flights.

I feel strongly about misbehaving on an airplane and am all for lifetime bans etc, (see my other posts  Smile ) and if people who do this are more aware of the presence of Sky Marshalls, then again, this can only be benificiail for all of us who fly.

Mark
7LBAC111
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prosa
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:49 pm

Post 9/11, there will always be someone like Todd Beamer, Mark Burnett, et. al. on every flight...someone will have the initiative to try to organize some level of resistance...to the extent they're successful depends on the particular group of people. While #93 never landed again, it also didn't 'land' in the Capitol building or White House, either. Some pax on the AA flight with Richard Reid didn't bat an eyelash to help the f/a subdue him and helped prevent disaster.

I wish I could share your confidence, but I fear that the idea of never resisting a criminal, never fighting back is so deeply ingrained in most people that resistance may not occur even in clearly life-threatening situations. To some extent it may depend on the flight: resistance may be more likely on a flight with mainly leisure travelers, given the mix of social and economic classes, as well as the fact that many of the male passengers will be traveling with their families, while resistance may be less likely on a flight occupied mainly by upscale businessmen. Hopefully we'll never find out. In the meantime, however, air marshals are a pretty good idea.
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Stretch 8
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:07 am

The problem is the dicked-up TSA. The Air Marshall program was migrated from the also dicked-up FAA to the TSA. Too many incompetent people running the program, insisting on idiotic rules (certain type of dress, certain routes only, etc.). Also, the morons in Congress insist on coverage for flights that probably don't need marshalls (i.e., all the shuttle flights between DCA and LGA).

The program should be enhanced so that all U.S. carrier international flights from Europe into/out of the U.S are maned by 3 or more marshalls. Ditto for transcon flights. Let's face it, OBL & Co. won't be taking over an Air Midwest flight from Milwaukee to Quad Cities. Protect the majors on high-profile routes first!
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backfire
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:11 am

Sledgehammer and nuts...

You could have 9/11 occur once every four weeks, for an entire year, and still fall far short of the annual body-count on the US highway system.
 
slider
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:13 am

I must admit a certain level of skepticism regarding the efficacy of air marshals. If the purpose is to thwart a terrorist takeover of the aircraft, the question then becomes whether or not the reinforced cockpit doors are fully effective.

Based on what I know of them, the flight deck is akin to a bank vault these days. In the event of a terrorist takeover, that door stays shut and then the captain can do an emergency descent, put everyone to sleep if absolutely necessary, etc.

I'm not sold on them as a deterrent factor, although one could make that argument fairly compelling either way, IMO.

The operational involvement with airlines is a pain in the ass, though. No simple of polite way of saying it. Whether it's briefings that shouldn't impact an airlines operation but do, or late bookings that displace Elite flyers (which does happen and then worst of all the airline CAN'T tell the customer WHY they're being downgraded!), or simply the vast inconsistency among their protocols and conduct, it's an absolute mess and has been since Day 1.

Furthermore, the revenue impact on airlines is sizable. Each carrier manages the FAM (Fed Air Marshal) list, and taking 2 full-revenue first class seats out of the equation is a financial impact to airlines.

I think the FAM program needs a comprehensive independent review and I think other options should be considered, not necessarily to replace, but to augment the program.
 
aa757first
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:27 am

First, why plant a covert agent? Make it a full display of force, sit a guy with body armor with a fully automatic tazer gun or hell just frozen paintballs in a jump seat between the F cabin and the cockpit. "Hey, I'm here and you're not getting past me biach!"

The logic is that the terrorist, while still under cover, just walks past him and stabs him.

I agree with you that we need them! As far as arming the Pilots, NO WAY! I do not agree with it one bit! Actually it scares me! The ones that I have flown with that are armed, seem crazy!

Well the first problem is Northwest is hiring crazy people to fly aircraft. Let's face it, if your pilot is crazy he or she can very easily kill you and the other passengers. So next time you encounter a crazy pilot, consider informing your supervisor.

AAndrew
 
7LBAC111
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:37 am

The logic is that the terrorist, while still under cover, just walks past him and stabs him

But if the marshall is up there, the terrorist is gonna have a job walking past him and stabbing him with a concealed weapon. and then get away with it when there are 2 or 3 other covert agents on the flight seeing this or at least becoming aware of it.

And if a pax/terrorist was walking towards an area between F and the cockpit - the Marshall SHOULD be aware of him. A pax should have no call to enter that area.

Debate is what you put on de hook when you want to catch de fish.
 
BCAL
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:56 am

When airborne the captain has complete command. If the aircraft is hijacked or taken over by terrorists, then the experienced captain should decide what action should be taken rather than some sky marshal who, unless she or he is a highly trained professional, might simply start a gunfight in the cabin. I would imagine that many sky marshals are on par with security officers – perhaps lacking in training and poorly paid. Could the airlines afford sky marshals who are ex-SAS trained on every flight? I doubt it. The captain has many years experience to reach his position – the armed marshal has probably just come out from the training academy judging by the way the government agencies work.

What I would like to know is what the pilots' view is. Do pilots on international flights of the airlines likely to be targeted feel "safer" if there is an armed guard on their flight? On the other hand, do they prefer to be in command if an antagonistic situation arises? If I remember correctly BA, other non-American airlines and BALPA were not keen on being told that armed guards should be on every flight arriving or departing from the USA.

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
 
edka
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 1:25 am

Airline security should start on the ground - advanced passengers screening, extra checks, better equipment, and better security staff at the airport. If you actually have a terrorist on a flight, that's BAD NEWS regardless whether there are air marshals on flight or not...

BCAL - a couple of points on your previous message:
a) How can the captain be in charge of a potential situation, if he is in the cockpit and quick decision need to be taken?
b) El Al air marshals are disguised as passengers, but the pilots are not armed. However, they do have a bulletproof cockpit door, which can only be activated from inside...
 
BCAL
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 2:35 am

How can the captain be in charge of a potential situation, if he is in the cockpit and quick decision need to be taken?

Good question EDKA but I would think that in a potential situation arising in the cabin and the captain in the cockpit, he is the one who should decide what to do. He has the overall responsibility for safety, not the sky marshal.

BTW how do we know the El Al pilots are not armed?

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
 
CRJboy
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 3:07 am

ive seena bunch of amrshalls on our planes...i greet them and then i forget they r there...always happens...if soemthing happens imr eady to defend myself.  Smile but then u never know.  Smile
 
csavel
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RE: Air Marshals Needed? Or A Nuisance?

Wed Aug 18, 2004 7:57 am

Perhaps marshals should be deputized FBI officers, who after extensive training, volunteer to be marshals in exchange for free flights, airlines are recompensed for the lost revenue, although that would of course mean a huge amount of cronyism and if a cop wants to go to LA to see his girl, he gets a free ride if he decides to be a Marshall, hmmm, actually, not too bad, they do that with cops in the subway in NYC, and I guarantee it is abused, but the idea of having more law enforcement people down there isn't the worst in the world.

After being trained, not only in dealing with terrorists but the public (to weed out the macho people who throw their weight around, and also to remind them that their job is to stop terrorists only, not deal with obnoxious drunks, even if the pilot has to land to throw them off, you stay undercover) they get re-trained yearly.

Problems with this? Yeah, a lot more "marshals" going to New York and MIA than, say, St. Louis, but nothing is perfect.

Also for Pete's sake, get rid of the stupid dress requirement. We can all agree on that, can't we?
I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.

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