Where are the air marshals? TSA stays tight-lipped on security threats

Reporter: Kellie Miller
Published: Updated:

Unruly passengers in America’s skies continue to be a problem. A video taken on March 5 shows the frightening moments on a United flight when a passenger threatened to take down the plane. A day later, another scary scene was caught on camera. This one shows a fight between two men on a Southwest Airlines flight.

Following these heated incidents, many travelers have asked ‘where are the air marshals?’ In fact, WINK News viewer Jerry Francis sent our team an email asking that exact question. 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) oversees the Federal Air Marshal Service. According to TSA’s spokesperson Sari Koshetz, air marshals still fly daily on domestic and international flights. However, Koshetz said, “The specific deployment of Federal Air Marshals is sensitive security information, which is information that, if publicly released, would be detrimental to transportation security.”

The Federal Air Marshal Service has been around for 60 years. The program, which is designed to provide security on planes, ramped up and became widely known after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.

Amid the frightening March 5 incident on board a United flight, passengers and the flight attendants were seen taking down the unruly passenger, later identified as Francisco Torres. 

A Boston police detective wrote in an affidavit, “Passengers tackled TORRES to the ground and he was restrained with the assistance of the flight crew.” 

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told CBS News, funding may be a problem.  

“We are not allowed to talk about the staffing of the air marshals on the planes,” Nelson said. “But what I will say is that more funding for all of these security programs is a must.”

The TSA later confirmed that there’s no shortage of air marshals. However, the agency is currently recruiting federal air marshals in three west coast cities including Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

WINK News later asked TSA officials how they prove air marshals are being used frequently on planes. Or, what proof can the agency provide to the public that shows air marshals are on board keeping travelers safe? TSA has not responded to our question. 

If you have questions you’d like our team to investigate, send us an email at investigations@winknews.com. 

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