Air Marshals Will No Longer Get First Class Seats On U.S. Flights

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has just announced that air marshals – the people that act as hidden law enforcement officers on commercial flights – will no longer be automatically seated in first class.

This change comes after statistics came to light showing that placing 3,000 air marshals on U.S. flights costs about $800 million per year, but there are only about three arrests per year (mostly for intoxication) and none for terrorism-related offenses.

Furthermore, reports have come to light that there have been more than 200 incidents in which federal air marshals have misused their firearms between 2005 and 2017. Many of these involve misplaced, stolen, or lost firearms. In 2017, an air marshal actually left their loaded gun in an airplane bathroom. There have also been instances of air marshals accidentally firing their weapons.

The reason air marshals were formally stationed in first class is because terrorists would likely attempt to storm the cockpit of a plane. In this case, it would make sense to have law enforcement as close to the cockpit as possible. However, cockpits became much more secure after 9/11 and the need to have an air marshal up front has diminished.

The change goes into effect on Dec. 28, 2018.