Armed US Air Marshal Escorted off Flight After Misunderstanding With Flight Attendant

Aug 22, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Confusion over a federal air marshal’s gun during a United Airlines flight from Newark (EWR) to Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) led to the agent being escorted off the plane by mistake on Monday night.

The United flight landed at MSP at 11:30pm, but it did not pull directly into a gate upon arrival. Passengers on board waited patiently while the plane sat on the tarmac, then suddenly police cars with lights and sirens began to surround the aircraft.

“The pilot came on and said to us that our gate was occupied, and we had to sit on the tarmac for a couple of minutes until the gate was cleared and we could proceed forward,” passenger Jennifer Bergman told CBS Minneapolis. “And then all of a sudden I noticed lights coming towards the plane in every direction.”

Then, four police officers board the plane, Bergman says. “They stopped in first class, pointed to two gentleman on each side of the aisles and asked them to go with them,” she explained. “The men, without incident, got up and left the plane.”

The TSA says that the man escorted off the flight for having a firearm was indeed a federal air marshal. “A Federal Air Marshal on official business onboard a flight was mistaken for a passenger by a flight attendant,” the TSA told CBS Minneapolis in a statement. “Protocols for notification of law enforcement presence aboard an aircraft are in place to avoid incident like this.”

Officials didn’t say who the second man was who was also escorted off the plane with the air marshal.

According to Bergman, the pilot told the passengers over the PA system that he couldn’t tell them the details of the situation but that the “matter has been taken care of.”

It is unclear how the miscommunication occurred or how protocol for notifying flight crew that an air marshal was on board lapsed. According to US Federal Regulations Title 49 a Federal Air Marshal typically identifies himself or herself to the aircraft operator by “presenting credentials that include a clear, full-face picture, the signature of the Federal Air Marshal, and the signature of the FAA Administrator.”

The FBI says it will be investigating the matter and notes that the miscommunication never put the other passengers in any danger.

“The safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority,” a United spokesperson told CBS.

Featured image by AP Photo/Reed Saxon.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.