NYT: “U.S. Air Marshal Left Loaded Gun in an Airplane Bathroom” (Delta Flight Manchester – New York)


New York Times ran a very interesting story this morning about an Air Marshal that had forgotten her loaded gun to a lavatory on a Delta flight from Manchester to New York in early April.

Delta Air Marshall

There are currently around 4,000 Air Marshall’s whose job is to “blend” with the passengers and prevent hijackings and other incidents on commercial flights.

You can access the New York Times piece here of which below is an excerpt:

A federal air marshal on a flight earlier this month from England to New York left her loaded service weapon in the aircraft’s bathroom where a passenger found it, four marshals familiar with the incident said.

Current and former air marshals said that leaving a loaded weapon unattended constituted a significant security breach that should have resulted in discipline and an investigation.

“You can’t have inept people leaving weapons in a lavatory,” said Craig Sawyer, a former air marshal. “If someone with ill intent gets hold of that weapon on an aircraft, they are now armed.”


There has been quite a few incidents lately with unintended guns that found their way to commercial flights in the United States. A Southwest pilot got caught with a gun (he didn’t go through screening) and American law enforcement employee turned in a gun at the Taipei airport that she had with her.

I was not surprised to learn that his Air Marshal program is rather costly. It represents roughly 10% of the TSA’s budget. Perhaps the money could be better spent somewhere else?

Must be a nice job? You just fly in first and business class. I would assume that the pay is good and you rarely have to do anything besides relaxing.

I have seen some security personnel on Royal Jordanian flights. Not sure if other airlines have them?

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  • Gregg

    I agree. The whole program is a joke. They could easily sit in the first row of coach and have plenty of visibility over the cabin door. Just another waste of taxpayer funds all in the name of the theatre of security that we love so much in the USA.

    • cscasi

      I haven’t seen any of the planes with them on board get hijacked, have you? But, based on your perception of the Air Marshal program, I take it you would rather fly on international flights with no sense of protection and if something happens; well, you won’t be around to complain about the waste of taxpayer money? I do agree that there have been instances where certain Air Marshals have reflected badly on their agency. However, as I mentioned before, there are always those few, no matter what organization.

      • Gary

        When is the last time you’ve seen any plan get hijacked, whatsoever? If you feel better about having an Air Marshal on your plane, that’s fine; but the logic of your argument is quite faulty.

      • Sarckosy

        There are now rules thatbsay there must be a minimum of two people in the cockpit at anyone time as pilots can’t be trusted to stay alive (not commiting murder)…Maybe the same should apply to airmarshalls – a minimum of two in case one feels suicidal and goes shooting.

      • Gregg

        Yes, I will gladly fly international carriers instead! They offer much better service too!

  • cscasi

    It’s obvious that there are always those 1 or 2% in most job types that are not real stellar performers, no matter how much training they are provided. It is those who make the whole company or agency look bad. So this is just an example of the laxity of some of these so called “professionals”.
    What if a child had entered the lavatory, found the gun, played with it, got the safety off and shot him/herself or discharged it and the bullet went through the door or wall and hit someone on the other side?

  • Malcolm

    Allowing an air marshall or anyone else to fire a bullet on a pressurized aircraft is reckless. A taser is safer for all concerned. There should be an app that informs the flight deck any time an air marshall removes a weapon from it’s holster.

  • Tim

    Seems you have a great job. Sit at a safe desk and get paid well and relax.

    Gregg as well. – pls comment on hotel points and deals Gregg. You appear uninformed and offer comments on a foreign topic to you. Please don’t, you embarrass yourself.

    Can’t decide if your conclusion is sad or not thought through or humorous. I don’t know your background but by your ” assumptions” there, one can form the opinion that you’ve had a life where you’ve never served in any capacity where you are responsible to train and shoot and be ready to save others’ lives ( whom you don’t even know ). You think they sit in first class and relax. Hmmmmm, pls stick to telling us where the hotel deals are sir, that seems more your expertise, rather than guessing about something you are totally in the dark on. Much obliged sir.

    • Gregg

      You are correct that you don’t know my background but I can assure you that you are not even close to correct. Flying around the world sitting in First class is not exactly what I would call “service” to our country but to each his own….