Are there air marshals on every flight?

Air Marshals can be found on about 5% of flights. The main reason for not having flight agents on every flight is that it is simply not affordable (the cost of one flight marshal is estimated to be around $3,300 per flight). 

With thousands of flights operating daily in the United States alone, not to mention international flights, assigning an air marshal to each flight would cost a significant amount would be an understatement. Instead, the TSA uses a “threat-based matrix for the strategic deployment of federal air marshals.”

Is there an air marshal on every flight?   


The Federal Air Marshals Service (FAMS) was created in 1961 in response to domestic hijackings. Before 1985, air marshals were used almost exclusively on U.S. domestic flights.    

But due to the hijacking of Flight 847, TWA FAM shifted its focus to international flights. After 9/11, the direction went again to include many more domestic routes.    

About 5% of U.S. domestic flights have air police on board. Domestic flights usually have one or two captains. There are also air police on international flights, but fewer than domestic flights. However, while domestic flights may have one or two guards assigned, up to four guards can usually be found on international flights.  

The 5% of air police officers found on commercial flights included international flights, although the exact numbers and differences between domestic and international flights are unclear. An exciting but disturbing fact about air police assigned to international flights is that 84% of them are sleep-deprived or unable to fly internationally. Show Source Texts

In 2002, the U.K. implemented the Aircraft Protection Operations (APO) program to protect civil passenger aircraft. Not much is known about this program due to the delicacy of the operation, and the very few details made public.   

They are assigned to some domestic and international flights and all flights to the Ronald Reagan Washington Domestic Airport. After 9/11, Australia established an Air Safety Officer (ASO) program within the Australian Federal Police. In Australia, air marshals are called sky marshals and work on both domestic and international flights. Air marshals are also used in many other countries, including Austria, Ireland, India, Israel, Pakistan and Singapore.   

It is impossible to give exact figures on the number of air police officers. This is because it is considered sensitive security information (SSI). According to the TSA, this information would pose a safety hazard to transportation if released to the public. However, we can estimate approximately 3,000-5,000 Air Marshals in the United States.  

Yes, the air marshal has the right to carry a pistol and make in-flight arrests. The Air Marshal will carry a SIG Sauer P229 or a SIG Sauer P239. While there is no reliable way to detect an air marshal every time, there are several indicators so you can narrow down the possibilities on your next flight. Although the flight attendants on the plane know about the air marshals on the plane and who they are, they are not authorized to divulge this information.    

So there’s no point in asking. In fact, if you request, you may be looked at suspiciously. If you’re wondering if there was an air marshal on 9/11, the answer is no.    

This is because air marshals only flew overseas before 9/11. In any case, there were only 33 active-duty Federal Air Force marshals at the time. So even if air marshals can now fly domestically, the chances of air marshals taking one of the 9/11 flights would be very low, given that there are thousands of domestic flights every day. As a result of the events of that day, President George W. Bush ordered a rapid expansion of the Federal Air Marshal Service, which included the recruitment, training and commissioning of 600 Air Marshals within a month.

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