Air Marshal Leaves Gun in Lavatory for Passengers to Find — Again. Enough is Enough With These Clowns.

No air marshal has ever stopped a terrorist or hijacker since the service was founded in 1962. Although an air marshal did shoot and kill a US citizen in 2005. If something really bad did happen on a flight and an air marshal was onboard they lack the training to do anything about it.

On April 6 onboard Delta’s Manchester – New York JFK flight an air marshal left their loaded gun in the plane’s lavatory. It wouldn’t even matter if the TSA started actually catching weapons going through a security checkpoint, because air marshals legally bring weapons onboard and make them available to passengers.

In this case a passenger found the gun and gave it to a member of the flight’s crew, who gave it back to the air marshal. Awkward.

This air marshal was even assigned to work a flight again a few days later.

The Transportation Security Administration, the parent agency of the air marshal service, said that it was aware of the episode but that it would not comment publicly on internal matters, adding that it was “reviewing the circumstances of this incident.”

We can’t bring electronics on board some flights, but the government is supplying the guns.

This is hardly an isolated incident. Two years ago an air marshal left a loaded gun in a Newark airport bathroom and in a Philadelphia airport restroom last year. In 2001 an air marshal left a hangun in an aircraft lavatory where it was found by a teenager.

A year and a half ago an air marshal sued for being denied his first choice of meal in first class and because a flight attendant spilled a drink on him.

He claimed the flight attendant walked “away without apologizing … or offering to clean the spill,” he was only offered the beef to eat because they ran out of other choices, so he approached the cockpit to report these incidents to the captain threatening to report the offense as well “to the TSA’s Mission Operation Center in Washington, D.C.” The captain kicked him off the plane.

    Liam Neeson in 2014 film “Non-Stop”

Air marshals scheduled work assignments to facilitate vacations and sexual trysts. A year ago a United flight was delayed to remove a drunk air marshal.

Even by 2008 we had plenty of cumulative experience with air marshals.

  • One “smuggled cocaine and drug money onto flights across the country, boasting to an FBI informant that he was ‘the man with the golden badge.'”

  • Another lured a young boy to a hotel room, showed him child pornography, took pictures of him naked and sexually abused him.

  • Two air marshals tried to hire a “hit man nicknamed ‘the Crucifixer.'”

  • An air marshal abducted a prostitute during a layover in Washington DC.

  • An air marshal “pulled his gun in a dispute over a parking space

  • One fired their gun inside a Las Vegas hotel room, another fired theirs in a Phoenix bar fight.

  • Not to mention,

    air marshals have taken bribes, committed bank fraud, hired an escort while on layover and doctored hotel receipts to pad expenses, records show. They’ve been found sleeping on planes and lost the travel documents of U.S. diplomats while on a whiskey-tasting trip in Scotland.

We spend $200 million per arrest in the air marshal program. And to be clear that is not $200 million per arrest of a terror suspect, most are just passengers behaving badly.

After over 7 years the TSA responded to a FOIA request last year for reports of air marshal misconduct.

For starters, air marshals were arrested 148 times from November 2002 through February 2012. There were another 58 instances of “criminal conduct.”

In addition, air marshals engaged in more than 5,000 less serious incidents of misconduct, ranging from 1,200 cases of lost equipment to missing 950 flights they were supposed to protect.

…250 air marshals have been terminated for misconduct; another 400 resigned or retired while facing investigation.

Air marshals have been suspended more than 900 times, resulting in more than 4,600 days lost to misconduct.

The Washington field office had the most incidents with 530 cases, followed by New York with 471, Chicago and Dallas with 373 each and Los Angeles with 363. There were 85 cases at air marshal headquarters, highlighting that in some cases, misconduct has extended to the top brass.

As they say, a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

It’s time to eliminate all the bad apples by ending this bad joke of a program after 55 years of ineptitude.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Being an Air Marshall sounds like a pretty sweet gig. Do they fly revenue and collect miles? Where do you sign up?

  2. Sounds like the dream job for trump deplorables, gun nuts, tea baggers, and bundy type patriots…

  3. Should have kept the gun and sell it on the black market.
    And put the stupid FAM in real trouble.

  4. @Jason No, the FAMs don’t get to collect airline miles, but they do get to keep their hotel points and earn hotel status. Many times they can even choose their preferred hotel chain/program.

  5. @Richardo worth noting that my post makes an argument, your comment merely offers an aspersion, the sort of rhetoric that itself is usually more associated with a ‘nut’. Pot, kettle much?

  6. If only the person who found the weapon had come out into public view, waved it around in the air while saying “which one of you is the air Marshall? You left your gun behind.” I’m all for some public humiliation of this guy.

  7. One of the things not mentioned here which I think should be mentioned is that this was a new hire that was supposed to be paired with a more experienced marshall. This is likely why she was not suspended, because the supervisors screwed up with their own policies. That makes it all the scarier they put this woman on a plane with a gun when she wasn’t considered competent to be doing the job on her own yet.

  8. They are hard working people that succrefice their health every day. You dont even know how much they work and do to keep us safe. Do you think TSA screeners will protect you from hijack a plane and repet 9.11. You people are stupid.

  9. How do they succrefice their health every day? No obviously TS screeners will not protect us from highjack a plane and repet 9.11, but theze guys perobably wont eether.

  10. The Air Marshal service is the laughing stock of the law enforcement community. More Air Marshals have been arrested then terrorists arrested. Adultry, criminal activity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and flat out incompetence is rampant within the agency. Top brass was caught up in and illegal gun scandal where the director of the agency was allowed to retire without criminal prosecution. Here are some of the scandals and stupid mistakes:
    1) FAM (federal Air Marshal) accidental fired her/his weapon on board an aircraft. This caused damage to the aircraft and the aircraft had to be taken out of service.
    2) FAM accidental fired his/her personally owned AR15 riffle inside the office gym. (Why would this FAM bring in an unauthorized weapon into a federal building?)
    3) FAM accidental fires his/her issued handgun within his/her home (drunk) and the bullet traveled into the left door apartment lodging inches above a child’s bed (This FAM was a firearms instructor for the agency).
    4) FAM brings in her/his personally owned forearm into a foreign country and is arrested when he/she got caught attempting to enter the airport with it. (FAMs are not normally permitted to carry firearms while in another country and this was one of them)
    5) 2 FAMS in D.C were involved in a fist fight and one of them discharged their weapon for self defense (the shooting was justified, no one was hurt). The problem was the FAMs never called the police or their supervisors of the incident.
    6) FAM leaves weapon inside lavatory (on aircraft) while on vacation. The plane was in flight. What’s interesting about this case is the female FAM was traveling with her husband who was also a FAM.
    7) FAM accidentaly fired his weapon inside a hotel, left a bullet hole in the window and never reported it. (Cleaning crew found the hole and called it in).
    8) FAM left entire ‘fanny pack’ hanging on a public bathroom door at a highway rest stop. Inside the ‘fanny pack’ (bag) was his/her government issued cel phone, an issued smart device (PDA), federal ID with badge and the weapon.
    9) 2 FAMs get in a fist fight at a Hawaii bar, lose the fight, go back to the hotel, grab guns and badges, return to the bar, lose the fight again, guns taken away by the bar personal and tossed in the water. The FAMs were arrested and charged.
    10) FAM brings in to another country 2 magazines (clips) with bullets in them. He/she puts then inside hotel A/C vent. Cleaning staff found it.
    11) FAM withdrawing large amounts of cash from issued government credit card to feed his/her gambling addiction.
    12) FAM purchases motorcycle with issued government credit card.
    13) FAM is upset that flight attendant spilled a drink on him/her, was upset he didn’t get the beef inflight meal, complained to the captain and finally sued the airline.

    I’m here all week.

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