We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Federal Air Marshal do?

By R. Anacan
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A Federal Air Marshal is a law enforcement officer charged with maintaining the safety and security of passenger aircraft and airports in the United States. Air Marshals are assigned to the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The specific number of air marshals that are currently employed by the U.S. Government is classified but is believed to be in the thousands.

The Federal Air Marshal Service originated in the early 1960s during the Kennedy Administration as a reaction to an increased number of hijackings of aircraft flying between the U.S. and Cuba. The Air Marshal Service was further expanded by President Ronald Reagan in the mid 1980s after the much publicized hijacking of Trans World Airways (TWA) Flight 847 in the Middle East. After the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 the service was expanded once more by President George W. Bush, from approximately 30 air marshals to several thousand, to meet the growing threat to American airlines and airports posed by global terrorism.

Each day thousands of air marshals are assigned to airline flights all across the United States. On the average, an air marshal is required to fly approximately 15 days a month and a little over 180 days and 900 flight hours a year. There are not enough air marshals to be assigned to every airline flight in the U.S.; therefore air marshals are assigned to flights that are considered to be higher risk targets for an attack.

A Federal Air Marshal poses as a regular passenger on an airplane. While on board an aircraft, air marshals maintain constant surveillance in an effort to prevent a hostile act before it begins. In the event that an attack or hijacking occurs, air marshals seek to immediately neutralize the threat.

In a perfect situation an air marshal would blend in seamlessly and remain completely anonymous to the other passengers on the aircraft. The flight crew however, is made aware of the identity of any air marshals on board an airline flight. Anonymity is considered important because it is believed that once the identity of a Federal air marshal is known, the air marshal would be an obvious target in the event of an attack or hijacking. Unfortunately, there have been reports of the identities of air marshals being compromised through mistakes, negligence, or faulty policies and procedures

Due to the nature of the position, many Federal Air Marshals are former military or law enforcement personnel. They undergo an extensive and specialized three month training program and are believed by many to have the highest firearm qualifications among law enforcement officers. Those interested in obtaining information about the Federal Air Marshal Service should contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the Transportation Security Administration.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources

Discussion Comments

By Pippinwhite — On Feb 15, 2014

I know I'd feel better about being on some flights if I thought an air marshal was on board. I've been on a few flights where I wish someone had arrested an irritating passenger -- although I realize that's not the air marshal's function.

I have heard of them breaking up incipient fights among passengers, however, which makes sense when you consider that a fight could certainly jeopardize the safety of the flight. The bad part about that is that some adults cannot control themselves (or their alcohol consumption) sufficiently to make sure they are acting appropriately during a flight.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.