Sky Marshals in Australia

Their cost-effectiveness is being debated:

They’ve cost the taxpayer $106 million so far, they travel in business class, and over the past four years Australia’s armed air marshals have had to act only once—subduing a 68-year-old man who produced a small knife on a flight from Sydney to Cairns in 2003.

I have not seen any similar cost analysis from the United States.

Posted on March 8, 2007 at 7:37 AM54 Comments


MrAtoz March 8, 2007 8:01 AM

I’ve always thought that the Air Marshal program actually creates an additional risk — they bring weapons onto airplanes. Part of the assessment of whether the program is worth it or not should also take into consideration that added risk. I think that there’s got to be a way to exploit the Air Marshal’s exemption from the aircraft weapons ban.

Bunny March 8, 2007 8:42 AM

Quoting Ellison: “It’s like saying that because you have an armed guard outside a bank, and the bank is not robbed, the guard is unnecessary.”

Actually, it’s more like putting armed guards inside the bank after you’ve meticulously set up a system that prevents bank customers from bringing anything that could possibly be considered dangerous into the bank, all the while siphoning money off of other security measures – such as making sure the guards outside the bank are more effective and reinforcing bank saves.

Ian March 8, 2007 8:42 AM


Yeah, knock him out and take it.

Not to defend the program, but isn’t one of the points of a sky marshal to prevent people being rowdy in the first place? Just the knowledge that he’s there could, in theory at least, help quell air rage and the such… In fact, I’m kind if that “only had to act once” thing takes into account non-violent actions the marshal might have done, such as flashing his badge at a disgruntled passenger and getting him to quiet down.

As far as all the airline security things go, I’m actually not too concerned with sky marshals. In fact, aside from the absurdity and cost, I don’t really see much of a downside for them being on the plane. This as opposed to the absurdity, inconvenience, cost and privacy issues raised by other “security” measures.

merkelcell March 8, 2007 8:51 AM

Less everyone forgets, hijacking aircraft to Cuba in the 1960s was the primary reason for the federal air marshal program, actually setup in 1968.

David March 8, 2007 8:57 AM

I’d rather spend my tax dollars on an Air Marshall program than some of the Congressional pet programs I’ve read about.

Spider March 8, 2007 9:12 AM

“subduing a 68-year-old man who produced a small knife ”

How big does the knife have to be to be considered a serious threat? The 9-11 hijackers had boxcutters, not exactly broad swords.

How much did a plane cost?
How much would a downed plane have cost the airline in future sales, as well as compensation for the victims families?

I agree we need to analyze the cost of all security, but in order to do that we have to resort to the actuary sciences and determine the cost of each life and the probability of the loss. A journalist is not qualified.

unarmed March 8, 2007 9:17 AM

I agree with Mr MrAtoz. Surely having somebody bring guns onto the plane is a risk.

The best thing to do would be to quietly redeploy the air marshals to other, more useful roles, without telling anybody so that there are only a small number left.

Conceivably, staging an occasional security incident and ensuring that it was well covered by the media might be a good idea as well. You want people to think there is an armed marshal on board to deter attackers without the cost and risk of paying someone to carry a gun on board.

Perception is everything.

erasmus March 8, 2007 9:28 AM

My “best value” airline in-flight security story was on a flight over Africa. One passenger got drunk and rowdy, and was subdued by duct-taping him to his seat for the rest of the flight.

Not only is duct-tape cheap in the cost-benefit analysis but it isn’t on any banned list 😎

Joshua March 8, 2007 9:37 AM

I dunno, I tend to think Air Marshals are actually one of the better airline security ideas, at least if you’re trying to stop a hijacking. As we saw on September 11, even a group of motivated passengers can stop armed hijackers. Having someone with training and a weapon could really turn the tide.

On top of which, it’s very true that hijackings don’t happen that often any more. 9/11 was a fluke, really. It would be difficult to prove what factor has done the best job to deter hijackings, unfortunately, because we’ve thrown a lot of random ideas up without much thought or research.

But, Hell, they can put a uniformed cop outside the cockpit of every plane, for all I care, as long as they let me bring some frickin’ bottled water on board.

Stephen Smoogen March 8, 2007 9:56 AM

The cost of the program should be looked at twofold:

The cost of feeling secure. Many people are uncomfortable flying.. partially from the lack of ‘control’ and partially from the long confinement with total strangers. Small risk problems become larger in the mind, and actually can cause more problems. Having the ability to say “there is a guard somewhere on this plane.. I can relax.” should be considered into the cost.

Multi-layered security always costs more than single wall security. However the effectiveness is much higher. You could put everything on the fact that the bank customers are padded down etc.. but does that eliminate the inside job?

I am not sure if sky-marshalls carry guns anymore except in the movies. It is probably classified what they do carry.. but I would expect the items would be weighted towards general safety of the passengers (taser-shotgun).

Ntaylor0909 March 8, 2007 9:59 AM

Does the lack of problems mean that solution isn’t working? If it is truly a deterrent that there may be a plain clothes trained person with a gun on the plain then it should be considered a success that they have not had to do anything so far. Now I don’t have data to prove that, but do they have data to prove that the program hasn’t deterred someone? We spend billions on other programs like strip searching old ladies on walkers without any evidence that if helps. I think it is a way more effective solution than poorly trained screeners and x-ray machines that can strip search people.
It only takes one person to throw off a carefully crafted hijacking plan and the fact that there may or may not be one on a particular flight makes them even more of a deterrent because the hijacker never knows if there is or isn’t one on the flight.

FP March 8, 2007 10:02 AM

I agree with Ian. When there are unruly passengers making trouble, it’s good to have someone around who has the training and authority to deal with it.

I don’t think sky marshals need to be armed, though. You don’t need a loaded gun to keep a drunk passenger quiet. It is probably hard to make up a scenario where a sky marshal can use a weapon to counter a threat. In that face, I would agree that arming sky marshals is more risk than benefit.

As for sky marshals flying business class rather than economy: I’m sure that an economy seat would violate OSHA workplace regulations. It’s enough torture for regular passengers.

As an airline, I would push to abolish the requirement that sky marshals must be armed, and then provide the necessary training to one or more flight attendants. Then they can sell the seat, and still have someone on board to counter any credible threat.

Colossal Squid March 8, 2007 11:04 AM

“Having the ability to say “there is a guard somewhere on this plane.. I can relax.” should be considered into the cost.”

Knowing that there’s an armed person on the plane-‘guard’ or not-would make me feel considerably less relaxed.

Gunner March 8, 2007 11:11 AM

Alternatively, if weapons were allowed on a plane, any would be hijacker has to account for some large percentage of armed passengers. Disarming the passengers just sets them up to be victims.

albatross March 8, 2007 11:16 AM

If the air marshal also works as a security guard to keep unruly passengers quiet, there’s a pretty obvious technique for the hijackers to unmask him.

I think the effectiveness of air marshals on terrorist hijacking plans is basically a psychological one–will the threat that you might get shot and not bring down the plane, and maybe even live out the next fifty years in prison, deter you? I don’t think I understand the suicide bomber’s mindset enough to have an opinion about that….

Roy March 8, 2007 11:16 AM

Knowing there is someone aboard with high opinions of himself, his authority, his weapon, and his training would persuade me to miss the flight.

albatross March 8, 2007 11:20 AM


An interesting question is whether nonlethal weapons would be a more effective deterrent. Guns are a good deterrent for people who don’t want to die, but maybe not for would-be suicide bombers. They’re in the midst of proving their lack of fear of death when the air marshal gets involved.

What else might be an effective deterrent? Introspection about what would deter us probably isn’t all that helpful, since most of us would presumably be pretty reluctant to blow ourselves up for a cause. (“Say, Ali, how about you do this one, and I’ll get the next busload of infidels, huh?”)

rdivilbiss March 8, 2007 11:22 AM

Being both ex-military (Air Force) and a former Police Officer I would much rather have an armed Air Marshall on the plane.

Mythbusters and common sense prove there is no Hollywood style massive danger to piercing the hull of a jet at high altitude.

There is no additional danger to having a qualified trained officer on board an air craft any more than having armed police in the general public.

As the Air Marshalls are incognito the risk is social engineering…e.g. creating a faux disturbance to get the Air Marshall to reveal him/her self then overtaking the Marshall with force.

It is rather moot, at least in the US as the Air Crew are beginning to carry weapons to protect to cockpit.

Are you ready to do their job? March 8, 2007 11:39 AM

Let’s ask El Al and the Israeli’s, maybe they should stop using Air Marshals too.

About a week after 9/11, I was on a flight to Vegas to go rock climbing. I was in the third row and a big guy wearing an ATF shirt was a row behind me. We took one look at each other and immediately agreed that no one was coming past us without a fight.

I agree that nowadays, the events of flight 93 would be the norm and not the exception. However, everyone on that flight died. If an Air Marshall can prevent or deter the catastrophic loss of plane, then to me that is worth significant expense. I think I recall from the 9/11 report that at least one flight attendant was believed to have been killed by the hijackers in the course of their capture of the plane. Training the aircrew and arming the pilots might be a good idea, but they are a known quantity with easily predicted movements.

Going back to El Al, we should also adopt their standard of using ‘blast-proof??? air cargo containers in their baggage loading process. The airlines have fought this measure ever since the Lockerbie bombing – because of the estimated cost of $1 million per plane. This is an excellent safety measure, because of not only the risk from terrorists, but also the risk of stupidity from the airlines. I am sure that all those people on ValueJet flight 592 died happy knowing that the Actuaries had determined that their lives were cheaper than upgrading the baggage containers to withstand the heat and fire of a blast.

Anonymous March 8, 2007 11:53 AM

“As the Air Marshalls are incognito the risk is social engineering…e.g. creating a faux disturbance to get the Air Marshall to reveal him/her self then overtaking the Marshall with force.”

If that’s the risk, removing Air Marshalls from planes should fix it.

Geoff Lane March 8, 2007 12:03 PM

To be effective you need air marshals on every flight as it is believed El Al has. Otherwise the terrorists will just perform a multiple hijack knowing that some will be successful. Dying for a cause works whether or not the plan of the individual terrorist succeeds.

You can see this thinking in all the recent major bombings. Not just lone attacks but small groups of five or so people, each with a target.

Cost Schmost March 8, 2007 12:19 PM

Cost schmost. We’re talking about human life here! “If it saves just one life”, then no matter the cost, it’s worth it, right? We should all willingly have 68% of our annual income taxed from us, to pay for whatever program will provide as much safety as possible.

What percentage of your annual income do you pay now, in federal income taxes? State income taxes? Federal and state excise taxes? You don’t even know? Then you won’t miss a little more.

Anonymous March 8, 2007 12:34 PM

Under CYA economic modeling, there is no cost advantage to either removing air marshals or removing their firearms.

Anyone who argues against the CYA model is clearly unaware of the REAL economics of the situation.

Case closed.

Aaron March 8, 2007 12:41 PM

Bruce, wasn’t it YOU who said (in beyond fear) that sky marshalls are one of the only 3 things keeping airlines secure since 9/11?

(the others being a reinforced cockpit door, and passengers knowing they need to fight back)

The sky marshal program is a deterrent, we will never know if it is working, because the fact that it is in place makes people not want to take the 1:10 chance that their operation will be complicated by an armed cop on the plane.

arl March 8, 2007 12:50 PM

First off air marshals already have the whole “smoke out the air marshal” thing figured. I guess that puts them a bit ahead of most who post here?

Second if you want to try and hatch a plan to overpower and disarm the air marshals on a plane (notice the plural) have at it.

Prior to 9/11 a lot of law enforcement could and did carry on a plane. No problems that I can recall. But it is funny reading the posts of the helpless over someone having a gun.

Moshe Yudkowsky March 8, 2007 12:54 PM

Let’s get rid of the guards at my local bank, too. They haven’t caught any bank robbers lately.

For that matter, no one ever tried to break in through the door of my house; I should probably remove the lock, which is an inconvenience and might break one day and keep me out of my house.

So… sometimes deterrence based on semi-random enforcement is effective, and sometimes deterrence is ineffective and a waste of money. As far as I can tell, if deterrence is introduced by the Bush administration, it’s automatically judged ineffective — there’s no coherent theory to support the different conclusions, just bald statements.

Thomas March 8, 2007 1:06 PM

Some quick maths..

“””The federal budget for air marshals between 2001 and 2006 was $80 million and is estimated to be costing $26 million this financial year.”””

That’s just over 5 years (assuming the program started late 2001) for $80 million, so just under $16 million per year.
Why is it costing so much more this year?
Or is the “budgeted cost” regularly overrun?

“””There are about 170 of them said to be travelling on international and domestic flights.

The cost of flight tickets for air marshals is absorbed by the airlines.”””

(obviously, ‘absorbed by the airlines’ means ‘passed on to customers’)

So $26 million for 170 air marshals, that’s about $150,000 each per annum, and all you have to do is fly business class and subdue the occasional pensioner.

Where do I sign up?

Erik V. Olson March 8, 2007 1:38 PM

Well, so far, since 9/11, I think the US Air Marshals have only shot and killed two unarmed people, right?

Hijacking isn’t going to work anymore. We didn’t resist hijackers before 9/11, because the evidence was very clear that, for the passengers and crew, resisting was more likely to kill them than complying.

That changed on 9/11. The 4th attack failed because the passengers — not Air Marshals — fought the hijackers. If they had known to fight before the hijack occurred, the plane might not have crashed. Instead, they were forced to attempt to retake the plane.

The pilots have been told clearly that you do not surrender a plane. The passengers now understand that if they cooperate with a hijacker, they’ll probably die in a collision with a building.

Any hijacker with enough force to overcome the flight crew maneuvering the plane to cause them harm and to beat down the efforts of the passengers and cabin crew isn’t going to be stopped by a single armed man — esp. since that armed man is not going to be able to aim on a maneuvering airliner. Indeed, the last hijack attempt I know ended up with the idiot being banged around the cabin repeatedly until he stopped trying.

Armed flight marshals made sense before 9/11, when the passenger and crew were told not to resist. This is no longer true, and an armed flight marshal is far more likely to kill an innocent passenger than a hijacker.

Can we stop being fucking cowards here? Can we stop pretending that someone’s going to jump up, yell “hijack”, and our hero is going to stand up and promptly put double taps into nothing but the bad guys while the pilot flying is doing his best to imitate Clint Eastwood in Firefox?

Look at a plane cabin! They’re not large. They are packed with people. The pilots will die before the give up the plane, and I will bet they will destroy the plane first. (How? If the door is about to fail, reach up, pull the fire extinguisher handles on all the engines, point the nose down. I’m betting — and hoping — they have explicit orders to do so if the cockpit door is breached.)

Hijacking has become a non-problem, because we all understand that we cannot let the bad guys take the plane. Given that the first thing the pilots are going to do in case somebody tries is dial the magic code into the transponders and pick up a couple of F-15s or the like as escort, if the pilots don’t hold the door and the passenger don’t hold the plane, the 20mm will make sure, in a vastly quicker and more certain way, that the plane will not reach the hijacker’s target.

The moment that hijacking stopped being a hostage problem and started being a missile problem, the rules changed. We’ll fight, because not fighting means we will die — either when the plane hits the target, the pilots drive it into the ground, or the Air Force blows us out of the sky.

This is why the problem has become bombs, and the only thing a SIG-Sauer P229 service pistol in a .357 SIG chambering is going to do to a bomb is detonate it.

Stop fighting the last war.

Valdis Kletnieks March 8, 2007 1:48 PM

@unarmed: “Conceivably, staging an occasional security incident and ensuring that it was well covered by the media might be a good idea as well.”

Unfortunately, when they try this, the headline ends up as “20 of 22 test bombs not detected by TSA”. And if they stage an incident and clue everybody in beforehand so it goes smoothly, it will either result in a leak to the press about the staged nature, or somebody will get suspicious that TSA got something anywhere near right….

Godiva March 8, 2007 2:44 PM

Everyone should fly naked. Much more cost effective, and it ruins the appetite enough where one doesn’t even want to eat airline “food.”

Smee Jenkins March 8, 2007 3:21 PM

“So $26 million for 170 air marshals, that’s about $150,000 each per annum, and all you have to do is fly business class and subdue the occasional pensioner.”

First, the dollar amount is in AUD$.

So, let’s scrutinise it. Say that a really good security guard gets paid AUD$60K per year (for the air marshal program, you get to pick and choose). Standard rule of thumb is that the business pays double that amount, thanks to benefits, training, administration, weapons, hotel stays, insurance, etc. That brings us up to $120K.

That other $30K? Well, there’s more than security guards in this program; it takes bureaucrats to run it. People to hire and fire, people to handle the rosters and pay, people to liaise with the airlines, a high-level official to yell at when things go wrong, etc. etc. So it seems plausible…

Laertes March 8, 2007 3:37 PM

“The moment that hijacking stopped being a hostage problem and started being a missile problem, the rules changed. We’ll fight, because not fighting means we will die — either when the plane hits the target, the pilots drive it into the ground, or the Air Force blows us out of the sky.”

And yet, the last time we had a plane hijacked, none of these things happened. The passengers didn’t attack the hijacker en masse, the pilot didn’t crash the plane, and no warplane shot it down. The passengers all played by the 9/10 rules and came out of it alive.

I prefer the “9/11 changed the rules” narrative because it’s simple and clear. Fight or die. And yet, recent experience shows that 9/11 did not, in fact, change everything. Those passengers didn’t fight, and in hindsight it seems clear that they made precisely the right call. Complicated.

Akos March 8, 2007 4:48 PM

I think the attack causing the most terror would be to blow up a bomb in the queue waiting to be screened. It doesn’t need to be a big blast, just kill (or even just injure) a few people, the panic in the crowd will take care of the rest.
And what could be the counter-effect ? Screen the people before screening ?
And that would be even before air marshals come into play.

crispm March 8, 2007 6:35 PM

“Marshals are armed and travel in pairs in business class, despite the fact that most incidents overseas have taken place in the economy section. The cost of flight tickets for air marshals is absorbed by the airlines.”


Gino March 8, 2007 6:57 PM

I’d rather take a chance on a marshal using a firearm than trust the air traffic controllers and air defense agencies to properly handle a transponder code 7500 (hijack). During flight training many pilots are instructed to avoid 7500 unless they want the plane shot down.

The chances of a marshal being necessary is so slight that the best thing is to foster the belief that they might be on the plane. (I’ve seen a few, though — I’m not too sure they’ve been allowed to do the things that would make them quite undetectable.)

Jarrod Frates March 9, 2007 12:49 AM


If the Australian air marshals are anything like the US air marshals have been described, they’re flying six days a week — sometimes seven — for 8-14 hours a day, and often are away from home the entire time, with vacation time problematic at best. They may fly on a brand-new 777 with comfortable seats in economy, or on an aging 737 whose seat cushions have little but the vague appearance of softness.

I’m perfectly willing to cut them some slack. Flying in business class leaves them more room to maneuver, more comfortable positions to react from, and more alert about problem passengers, as either a disturbance will be heard from the coach section, or a passenger will try — against policy — to get into business or first class. In either case, they will have more warning before they act.

Kevin Way March 9, 2007 1:44 AM

I’ve always viewed the air marshal program as a feel-good measure. (Or as I have heard it dubbed, “Security Theater.”) The claim is that it is supposed to prevent another 9/11, but that is absurd on two points.

The first is that a small number of randomly placed marshals are a pointless defense against a multiple hijacking pulled off by attackers with a desire to die. A 10% chance of failure is not a strong disincentive even with a single-plane attack.

The second is that 9/11s tactics are already broken. That attack worked because all parties expected the hijackers to use the passengers as leverage to make demands. Today, passengers (and staff) have motivation to decide if the hijacker intends to use the airframe as a missile, and if so, to react accordingly.

A number of people have talked about marshals as a defense against unruly passengers. I’d note that this is part of the job of a flight attendant. In addition to knowing how to point at exits, and pour drinks, they’re trained to handle these problems, and have done so successfully for a long time.

greg March 9, 2007 5:58 AM

Sorry i haven’t read all the comments.

But couldn’t they just go Econnomy class and half the travel expenses?

Paeniteo March 9, 2007 7:08 AM

Well, I would assume that they need to be seated close to the cockpit doors. Frequently, this will be Business class.

Sean March 9, 2007 8:36 AM

I have to agree with Kevin and Erik. I don’t know the specifics of the post-9/11 hijacking referred to, but I know for a fact that no terrorists got in the cockpit (because they couldn’t). So saying that said incident is an example of passengers not preventing another plane-as-missile is incorrect. If the hijackers allow the pilots to continue to control where the plane goes, there’s no reason for anyone to lose their heads, and it’s good to see that no one did.

Had they tried to fly the plane themselves – which would of course indicate that they needed to fly somewhere the pilots would not – I suspect passengers would have behaved differently.

And to the original issue of cost-effectiveness, I think a debate obviously does exist (unlike apparently other commenters). I don’t think the argument of deterrent is particularly good against 9/11 style attacks, because there aren’t enough of them and it’s not like terrorists are particularly risk averse. And >100mil is a lot of money. And no, cost-benefit analysis like that doesn’t go out the window when OMG safety is involved. If you must believe that human life is priceless, which I don’t have a problem with, remember that more lives might be saved if the money is spent differently. Think better medicine, better cars, AC if this was Europe (I’m thinking of those heat waves) etc.


Kees March 9, 2007 9:25 AM

@Sean “I don’t know the specifics of the post-9/11 hijacking referred to”

‘Speaking to the gunman during the hijacking, the pilot realized the man did not speak French. So he used the plane’s public address system to warn the passengers in French of the ploy he was going to try: brake hard upon landing, then speed up abruptly. The idea was to catch the hijacker off balance, and have crew members and men sitting in the front rows of the plane jump on him, the Spanish official said.

The pilot also warned women and children to move to the back of the plane in preparation for the subterfuge, the official said.

It worked. The man was standing in the middle aisle when the pilot carried out his maneuver, and he fell to the floor, dropping one of his two 7mm pistols. Flight attendants then threw boiling water from a coffee machine in his face and at his chest, and some 10 people jumped on the man and beat him, the Spanish official said.’

Skippern March 9, 2007 10:31 AM

Terrorists are allways a step ahead of us, now we are helping them getting weapons on planes, and we pay for it with tax money. Gee, we are smart or what? If it continues this way, why not stop looking for weapons in the security check, so that anybody can bring weapons, not only terrorists?

Jack C Lipton March 9, 2007 10:39 AM

I’ve been of the opinion that handing every adult passenger a knife– or, probably, even better, a baton to use as a club– would give us back our status as citizens rather than subjects.

Yeah, sure, you’re arming the terrorists, too… but think of all of the other people on that plane!

While I realize that the Shrubbery would like us all to be good little sheeple there is value in being valued, you know.

And, yeah, batons would end up being abused… but that abuse would subside after the drunk who decided to beat on the person in the aisle seat collected his own set of bruises.


I imagine a cute scene in an “Airplane!” movie would consist of hijackers undergoing beatings like the initiations seen in “Animal House”…

David March 9, 2007 10:51 AM

What does an air marshal do when presented with one or more hijackers armed with bombs and/or other weapons. Once you have a hostage, the use of a gun is made extremely complicated as you have to weigh what little you know about their plans, how many are present, what sorts of weapons do they have, etc.

Rich March 9, 2007 12:54 PM

I think Bruce’s interest with this case isn’t weather or not Air Marshals are a good idea, but whether anyone has looked the hard numbers and made a non-emotional, non-political decision about Air Marshals.

At least in Australia they’re looking at the cost-benefit.

Personally, I’d feel a lot safer on planes if they didn’t serve alcohol.

Jason March 9, 2007 5:14 PM

Federal Air Marshal’s in the U.S. are very effective. You can’t simply knock them out and take their weapons because you don’t know who they are or how many are on the plane. In the US the air marshals have arrested 32 people since 9/11. Anyone who thinks they pose a greater risk hasn’t taken the time to understand the tactics and the measures that are taken to preserve their identity and protect the flying public. On 9/11 four planes were hyjacked and over 3,500 people died. Since the expansion of the air marshal program, three would be hi-jackings have been thawrted by Marshal’s before the plane took off and zero american lives lost. Air Marshal’s too expensive? How much is you life worth to you?

unarmed March 10, 2007 2:59 PM


“three would be hi-jackings have been thwarted by Marshal’s before the plane took off”

Interesting. Do you have a URL for this please?

Thomas March 11, 2007 7:05 PM

“””In the US the air marshals have arrested 32 people since 9/11.”””

… and shot at least one innocent person.

If police in your neighbourhood had that sort of success rate, would you feel safer?

Andy March 12, 2007 8:14 AM

If we put the cheaper seats in the front of the plane next to the pilots it would make it cheaper for the air marshalls.
But also cheaper for the terrorists…

WitlessWarrior March 12, 2007 2:18 PM

Hrmph. Allowing firearms onto a plane is not much of an issue. The solution is a hard one, though, and one that will not be easy for the Aussies to be comfortable with and implement. It’ll be almost as hard to grasp and implement in the US.

What’s needed is to allow passengers with proper concealed carry permits to carry their weapons on board.

Vetted, armed civilians have as good or better a record in shootings as police, and it’s much harder for the malificent to predict who is armed or when one (or more!) might be on board.

Lyndell January 23, 2011 11:36 AM

I just dont get it, we are under great threat in these times, I spose its not till you have a gun shoved down your throat in a hostage situation will you be thankful that sky marshals on the plane will help you understand what a mess this world is becoming, but no worries hey you just live in your bubble and hope it doesnt happen to you or your family , when you have wiped them out air marshalls. and then your basically as good as dead not a chance, god forbid it could happen to you . Christ sake wake up and see the truth makes me think what are you up too try eliminate sky marshals , man people like you stopping these people willing to risk their life and probably shot at if not killed trying to good, save lives and they will do selfless acts, with structured discipline reading your comment , I doubt you would for very few if any . would you do that , save a passenger hostage attack of certain death because they are your only chance yeah god forbid . sometimes true reality of living in s bubble will surely be a tragic, so yeah shut them down and take no precautions hey , its not like we have had terrorism in planes ……… no never hey, honestly how naive you are. next you will complain about doctors flying in rural country to rescue the sick and dieing, I think you should be reported wish I had your naivety the worls is walt disney hey . Ive never read such crap, you have no idea, and by the sounds of it have never had yourself or your family knocking on heavens door. and a air marshall risking there life for complete strangers
what is god sposed to save us, ha sure maybe in heaven , personally I will stand and deliver, when you dont like something ask your self why, do you lack courage or we will pretend it can never happen, this is the most absurb niave thing I have ever read, DISGUSTING GOD FORBID WE Try Help hey shallow you must be a academic read to many txts boks , man dont belt women, people arent murdered for shoes, nooo thats to real for you too, be intresting to see how you thought if it happened to you or your family, pity it takes a tragedy before you may even have the faintest idea hopefully you wont . VERY DISAPPOINTING, I see you must be a academic who lives in a bubble . THEY ARE REAL PIRAtES OF THE SKY, and if a man has nothing to loose honestly do you think he wont shoot, and go ahead with stupidity, dam I need to find my rose tinted glasses

Bob March 26, 2011 6:22 PM

Well, let’s talk about the cost. In the whole scheme of things it’s is pennies to each person. You have to ask yourself, how much is the life of your loved ones worth?

Let the passengers or crew handle it: The crew is airline crew because they didn’t want to be law enforcement to begin with. How many passengers have the knowledge and capability of handling a variety of situations that could pop up. Atleast one plane on 9/11 the passengers decided to stop the hijacking and guess what, it still crashed.

Give everyone on board a weapon:
Do you really want most of the people you see on a plane having a weapon and hurting everyone around them.

Air Marshals are highly trained for different circumstances as well as knowing that there may be a ruse to figure out who they are. They are prepared for that. They know what they are doing and will handle situations 100 times better than the passengers and crew. The bad guys prey on the weak. They want to succeed. If the odds are against them they look for something else to attack. Take the air marshals off the planes and you just showed them your weakness and it will happen again.

Would you want to live in a city that had no police? Look at what is going on in Mexico with drug cartels that have been allowed to get too strong. No one is safe. You stop it early like the countries have implementing Air Marshals. I guarantee every bad guy knows that the Air Marshal will pull that trigger. Even for a suicide bomber, that is just one more worry in the back of his head to try to find a way to complete his mission. That one worry may be all it takes to stop him before he is successful.

If you think it is a waste of money then you live in a cardboard box and have no idea what really goes on out in the world. YOU are the target. You are who they want to kill. The air marshal is a positive tool in trying to prevent that. Why would you want to fight it?

Besides the danger to your person, think what 9/11 did to the world economy. Look at the whole picture. If Air Marshals deter it from happening again look how much better off you will be financially. The terrorists know this. If they could get one more plane it would be a bigger score for them than 9/11 because of the panic it would cause. Do you not think they are trying but can’t find a way around air marshals?

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.