As millions of people take to the skies this Thanksgiving, amid flight chaos caused by storms, many might be worried about a warning that there will be fewer air marshals on board than usual.
Record Numbers Flying
A record around 30 million Americans are estimated to fly during the holiday period as they return to their family homes and spend time with friends, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Air Marshals at US Border
But there won’t be as many federal agents as usual on aircraft, because many have been re-deployed to the southern US border with Mexico amid a surge in illegal migrant arrivals into the United States.
Air Marshals’ Role
The basic duty of air marshals is to look for any threats while a plane is in the air, and protect passengers. Their primary concern is to prevent terrorist and criminal acts from taking place while an aircraft is in flight.
Not on Every Flight
Not every domestic US flight has an air marshal on board, simply because there are not enough of the federal agents, who number around 3,000 compared to the average 45,000 daily flights around the US every day, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
FAA Travel Request
Ahead of Thanksgiving, FAA administrator Mike Whitaker issued a plea to people to behave properly when traveling by air during the holiday. “If you’re flying, please be nice to your flight crew. They are there for your safety. The FAA has zero tolerance for unruly behavior,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
Not everyone appreciated the FAA chief’s request. One person said on X: “Are you for real? You go on TV and blame the GOP, make things political because of YOUR incompetence. You couldn’t run a small city and you sure can’t handle being in charge of transportation.” Another X user wrote: “The FAA has zero tolerance for unruly behavior except when pilots are unruly & distribute torture & retaliation & havoc & illness for flight path victims.”
‘Worrying Time’ for Holiday Fliers
The head of the Air Marshal National Council, Sonya LaBosco, said it was a worrying time for the large number of people flying during Thanksgiving, because of the lack of air marshals on flights.
Focus on Migrant Arrivals
Speaking on Fox News, LaBosco said more attention was being paid to the migrant crisis than the safety of the traveling public.
‘Depleted Air Marshal Resources’
LaBosco said: “We are ushering in illegal immigrants on the border and leaving the traveling public unsafe,” adding that she had been told by the authorities that “resources are depleted as far as our flying air marshals.”
Air Marshals’ ‘Water Duty’
She claimed that the air marshals who were currently working at the border were not stopping people from entering the United States but were instead “passing out water” to newly arrived undocumented migrants.
US Flights ‘Crisis’
And LaBosco said the lack of federal agents protecting civilians in the skies had now amounted to a “crisis” but that the authorities were not willing to acknowledge it as such.
Border and Aviation ‘Destabilized’
The US, claimed LaBosco, was suffering from a twin hit, because, she said, “not only is the border destabilized, our aviation is destabilized as well.”
9/11 Air Marshal Expansion
The US beefed up its air marshal program in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that left nearly 3,000 people dead after Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked civilian aircraft and plowed them into the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington. Passengers managed to overpower terrorists on another flight and crash it into a field in Pennsylvania.
No Air Marshals ‘on Most Flights’
LaBosco said most US domestic flights now do not have an air marshal on board. “We’re either on the border for illegal immigrants or we’re following folks from January 2021. So right now, on most flights, you’re not going to have air marshals,” she said, referring to the January 6, 2021, riots on Capitol Hill.
‘On Your Own’ in the Sky
She suggested that people intending to fly this holiday season instead take matters into their own hands, saying “you’re kind of on your own.”
LaBosco advised: “If anything happens, please don’t wait. There’s going to be no law enforcement that’s going to help you, so you need to have a plan.”
‘Be Aware’ While Flying
She continued in her advice to the flying public: “Look where the exit doors are. Look where your flight attendants are standing around you.”
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