My First Air Marshal Experience

When you fly a ton, you start amassing interesting experiences.  I sat in first class with a band that I had just seen in concert the night before.  And I had a truck hit my plane.

But this was my first experience with an air marshal.


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.

The situation de-escalated after that and the man agreed to take his seat.  I guess his melt-down worked because his friend made the flight.


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. Are you sure it wasn’t just a good Samaritan? Seems a little silly for an air marshal to blow their cover when they are on the ground with the door open.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      He didn’t run in yelling “I’m an air marshal!” like the clip. But it was clear the FAs were getting nervous, and when he jumped up, he had clear authority. The FAs were deferring to him to deescalate the situation, and as much as a good Samaritan would be helpful if someone needed to be restrained, it would not be good for them to let that person be the one to try to end the situation!

      What’s funny is, I ran into people in Vegas on my flight! They had no idea why it was delayed. Just that we sat there for a while, and didn’t even see any of the commotion in F!

  2. I thought FAMs were supposed to be in the last row so they have an overall view of the entire F cabin and have several rows to react should someone from Y come up.

    When they are in row 1, there’s minimal space between them and the cockpit.

  3. A (potentially) empty seat in F? That’s almost more surprising than the air marshal, at least if my last few hundred thousand miles flying UA are any indication.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      There aren’t many elites on US Airways to vacation destinations. I’ve had empty seats in F to Jamaica, Bahamas (come on pretty ma… er) and Vegas

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