Sometimes I’ve wondered. One time I found out for sure.
While boarding was going on, the gentleman in front of me in first class asked the flight attendant if the first row were empty. When she said she wasn’t sure, he asked her to go check the manifest.
I rolled my eyes. What a high-maintenance first class flyer! He wasn’t even waiting for the boarding to be complete before looking to spread out in his own row in first class.
Then a passenger ran up the aisle and had a melt down at the front of the plane. His friend wasn’t on the plane and he wasn’t going to let the plane leave until his friend was there.
As the flight attendants tried to calm him down by telling him he only had two choices–on the plane or off the plane, the man from first class sprung up and joined them, “Do we have a problem here, sir?”
Ohhhh. As the flight attendants gave the man who was in first class the full run down of the situation, it hit me. He wasn’t high-maintenance. He was an air marshal looking to get in an empty row so he could do his job better.
Of course, my mind jumps to this when we talk about air marshals:
Not quite like this.
Air marshals assignments are kept secret, and there isn’t an air marshal on every flight.
What I overheard on my flight was the air marshal making himself known to the flight attendant.
A few years ago, an air marshal made himself known over anger over only getting one meal option in first class. (He, in fact, stormed the cockpit to complain to the captain and was subsequently thrown off the flight).
But for the most part, a marshal revealing himself over a minor issue is rare. They tend to stay out of even more serious issues, as long as the safety of the entire plane isn’t at stake.