From turbulence to suspicious passengers, flying makes many people very nervous—Gayle included! She talks with Federal Air Marshal spokesman Conan Bruce about the government's efforts to keep airplane passengers safe.
The Federal Air Marshal program has existed in the United States since the 1960s, but Conan says the program was initially very small. "On 9/11 there were fewer than 50 actual air marshals and they mostly concentrated on international flights, because that is where the threat was," Conan says. Since September 11, the government has hired thousands of additional air marshals, who now fly in teams on both foreign and domestic flights. Conan says an air marshal's job includes looking for anything out of the ordinary and taking action during an emergency. "We train to deal with anything from a medical emergency to—God forbid—a hijacker," Conan says.
Each marshal goes through an extensive 15-week training program, and Conan says they are trained to dress and behave in a way that blends in with other passengers. While air marshals may appear unassuming, Conan says they are constantly surveying people on the plane. "You look for behavior, actions, things that people are doing that would give you an indicator that they are being deceptive," Conan says.
Air marshals are not on every plane and there is no way to know if one is on your flight, so Conan says if you see something suspicious, always report it to a crew member. "As always, the crew on the aircraft—the pilot, the flight attendant—they have always existed for passenger safety," Conan says.