WSJ Middle Seat~ Airlines Looking to Bump Air Marshals to Coach

“In a recent episode, the Air Transport Association said, a flight from Europe to the U.S. was about to depart with at least six marshals already on board in multiple cabins when a rival carrier canceled a flight. Marshals from that flight came over to demand first-class seats on the flight that was leaving. The airline refused, saying it would cancel the flight rather than empty the first-class cabin. Marshals backed off, airline officials say. Mr. Minerly of the Federal Air Marshal Service said he was unfamiliar with the incident, and that the agency does not comment on specific cases.”

Airlines Want to Bump Air Marshals to Coach

A Debate Over Whether Agents in First-Class Seats Should Sit Farther Back Where Some Say Risk of Attack Is Greatest

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Wall Street Journal Middle Seat~ To protect the nation’s air travelers, federal air marshals deployed after the 2001 terrorist attacks try to travel incognito, often in pairs, and choose flights identified with the potential to fall under threat.

And they almost always fly first class—something some airlines would like to change. With cockpit doors fortified and a history of attackers choosing coach seats, some airline executives and security experts question whether the first-class practice is really necessary—or even a good idea. It could weaken security by isolating marshals or making them easier for terrorists to identify, airline executives say.

With more threats in the coach cabin now, first-class clustering may not make as much security sense. Security experts say bombers are a bigger threat today than knife-wielding attackers trying to get through secure cockpit doors, and Transportation Security Administration checkpoints are heavily focused on explosives, whether hidden in shoes, liquids or under clothes. Some believe bombers try to target areas over the wing—a structurally critical location and also the site of fuel storage—to cause the most damage to the aircraft.

Airline CEOs met recently with TSA administrator John Pistole and officials from the Federal Air Marshal Service requesting the TSA to reconsider the placement of marshals based on current security threats……. (continued)

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