Perhaps the most surprising thing, looking over the last 14 years of air travel, is that we haven’t had another 9/11. Put a different way, thinking back on travel in the weeks and months that followed it sure felt different back then, that air travel was less safe than it used to be. But nearly a decade and a half of experience now suggests otherwise.
- There aren’t actually that many people out to blow up airplanes, or at least that are willing to give up their lives to do it.
- Pulling that off is actually hard, even though the TSA couldn’t catch a terrorist if one tried to surrender themselves at a checkpoint.
What’s changed since 9/11 is that a terrorist could no longer get control of a passenger aircraft the way they once could.
Decades of experience up to that point led practice to be that a hijacker could direct a pilot to fly somewhere, there would be negotiations, and most passengers would eventually be safe. Post-9/11, hijackers do not get access to the cockpit (in fact, cockpit doors have been reinforced) and passengers do not sit idly by assuming that if they play it cool they’ll be safe. Anyone posing a risk to an aircraft is immediately the target of everyone on board.
Against this changed backdrop we have air marshals flying around the skies. They are on a very small percentage of flights, and it’s obvious who they are when they board (even though their dress code now instructs them to blend in, they board first and conspicuously identify themselves to gate agents).
They more or less fly around uselessly. And with the exception of a few assigned routes, they can arrange their schedules to fly more or less where they wish. So they go on vacation for work, and they meet up with each other for sexual liasons. That’s not a threat to the skies, because air marshals receive insufficient training to protect a plane if something did happen and they happened to be onboard.
An air marshal was served a predeparture beverage but the flight attendant spilled the drink on him (i.e. he was wasting a premium cabin seat).
He is suing because:
- he claims the flight attendant walked “away without apologizing … or offering to clean the spill,” and he says she laughed.
- there were three meal choices on the flight, but he was only offered the beef (the airline was either taking meal orders based on status and full fare, or he was seated where he’d be asked last)
- he approached the cockpit to report these incidents to the captain, and threatened “to report the incidents to the TSA’s Mission Operation Center in Washington, D.C.”
- and after all that, the captain responded in the most appropriate awesome way ever:
“Are you mad? Because I don’t want a mad person with a gun on my plane,” the captain said, according to the suit.
“I didn’t serve 21 f—–g years in the military being shot at so that you can threaten me with a phone call!” the captain said, according to court papers.
Maldonado made good on his threat, but the captain barred him from getting back on the plane.
The air marshal was suspended for seven days — which means he was deemed temperamentally suitable to return to the skies with a weapon after only a week. He claims that seven day suspension was retaliatory.
While I don’t suspect the flight attendant spilled a drink on him on purpose, I hope that a future flight attendant will.