But White After Labor Day Still Frowned On


An unpopular dress code for federal air marshals has been nixed; the sky cops were apparently worried that being the only guy on the flight to Hawaii in suit and tie was messing with the whole "undercover" thing.

NEXT: How Much Is That Dodgy Innuendo?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “…in suit and time…”

    Yea, the watch was a dead give away. No one uses those in Hawaii. 🙂

  2. Unfortunately I am instantly suspicious of anyone resembling a Parrothead approaching me, and may be prone to striking one of I feel threatened.
    Same goes for Phish-fans, gang-bangers, and most bikers.
    Also, I think the idea of a guy in a Hawaiian shirt and shades pulling a gun and IDing himself as a fed would probably make me break out laughing. It’s got that whole Glenn Fry/Miami Vice schtick going.

  3. Jeff,

    Maybe they should hire Don Johnson. 🙂

  4. They also get their cover blown by the fact that they’re sitting in their seats on the plane before anyone is allowed down the jetway.

  5. Hak,

    I think Philip Michael Thomas needs the work more.

  6. Ugh,

    The should give the a realistic baby doll, and they could be disguised as the passenger boarding with small children.

  7. I like the acronym, though: FAM’s. Maybe I’ve been misunderstanding the FAM’s values argument all of these years as “Family values”. It makes just as much sense.

    Are there any FEMs in the government? What branch is that?

    (Couldn’t resist the teasing, Julian on the mistype).

  8. David,

    Yeah, but who would wish such a nightmare on such a nice guy. Better to pick Don Johnson. 🙂

  9. They should disguise all air marshalls as young Muslim men. That way, everyone is already suspicious of them, but for the wrong reason!

  10. They also get their cover blown by the fact that they’re sitting in their seats on the plane before anyone is allowed down the jetway.


    Wow, they FINALLY process a federal employee’s travel paperwork ahead of time, and it’s the one group of federal employees who really shouldn’t be on the plane before everybody else.


  11. Wow, they FINALLY process a federal employee’s travel paperwork ahead of time, and it’s the one group of federal employees who really shouldn’t be on the plane before everybody else.

    Yep, seen it numerous times.

  12. Actually, here in subtropical Houston, I wear white through September.

    Don’t tell Jennifer.

  13. Ugh-

    While putting them on the plane first is clearly the wrong way to do it, I do understand the problem that they’re trying to solve: Somehow these guys need to get onto the plane without the whole world seeing that they’re armed (and hence identifying the Air Marshalls to all on-lookers, including any would-be hijackers).

    Any scenario that involves the Air Marshall going through the TSA checkpoint involves a risk that the Air Marshall will be identified publicly if the Air Marshall has to show identification to get the weapon past security. No matter how discretely it’s done, somebody might see it. (And I don’t have tremendous confidence in all of the TSA employees to get the hint and keep quiet.)

    I guess the only way to do it is some sort of cloak-and-dagger routine with Air Marshalls discretely swapping identical briefcases at a restaurant, or entering the terminal through doorways in rarely-used corridors, or something like that.

    Even that method could be compromised. But it still seems less vulnerable than putting them on the plane first. And I assume that Air Marshalls could vary their routines and whatnot to keep would-be hijackers guessing and make it harder to consistently pick out the Air Marshalls.

  14. I’ve seen them go around security too, but that doesn’t bother me as typically they only have to do it once a day because, I assume, they are taking multiple flights, and the chances of someone spotting them and then them ending up on the same plane are pretty small.

    But it was just ridiculous when I’m one of the first 5 people down the jetway and we turn the corner and there’s two guys in suits sitting on the plane in 3C and 6D.

  15. But can’t you see the meeting where they decided this:

    “From now on, mmmkay, you all can wear… hawaiian shirts…. and jeans”

    On a flights to DC we always play “spot the air marshall” – we got off the plane right after them and watched them go to the men’s room and head back to the waiting area to fly back to chicago.

    talk about a “man with one red shoe” moment (although this took place at NATIONAL airport, not dull, duller, dulles)

  16. Stubby, the ability to know which clothing is appropriate to the season is what separates us from the animals! Clearly you need more separation.

    Seriously, though, now that I have a job which requires some travel I try and guess who the air marshals are when I fly. Last night, when my plane was airborne and we could leave our seats, some guy in a “US EPA” baseball cap came up to the little section between the first row and the cockpit door, braced himself against the wall, and started doing leg lifts and squat-thrusts. (I had a front row seat, so I was forced to view the whole thing.)

    I really, really hope it wasn’t him.


    What’s wrong with Dulles? They have a SMOKING lounge there! It made the wait last night a whole lot easier. (Of course, the fact that the boss bought us all drinks in the Sam Adams Brewhouse helped, too. Nothing like a doubleshot of Goldschlager to give an airport a happy cheerful glow.)

  17. I haven’t flown into National recently, have they finally gotten rid of the stupid 30 minute no standing rule?

    Does anyone feel safer because of the air marshals?

  18. Why not put them in a wheelchair? That way the metal could be explained, and IF there was another hijack attempt (which I doubt will happen) it would be an extra surpirse for the ‘jackers if the guy in the wheelchair pulls a gun AND stands up!

  19. Hi Jennifer:

    nothing is wrong with Dulles like that. The Sam Adams pub is a wonderful thing. The “Dull Duller” was a slam on the man from back in the day. And I referenced Dulles, because that was where Edward Hermann’s character (Brown) made contact with Tom Hanks’s character (Richard Drew) in “Man with one red shoe”. It was such a friggin obtuse reference, nobody would ever get it.

    Guy in the back row:
    nah they wouldn’t – those terrorists are fundie types, and probably watch on Al Jazeera right before “the power hour of jihad (durka durka)” the healing mullah show where he pulls the dishtowel and shouts “demons IN!!!” and they get up and walk. They’d probaly think it’s a sign that the 14 virgins are near. (excluding themselves, of course)

  20. thoreau – there aren’t any metal detectors in the gate area. The agents need to board like a normal passenger, or no matter how festive their Hawaiian shirt is they will be easily identified. Because you don’t have to walk through a metal detector to get from the waiting area through the jetway, there’s no reason the agents can’t just get in line like everyone else.

    The agents need to get into the terminal in some discreet way, sure, but the problem is that they aren’t boarding with the other passengers.

  21. [i]Does anyone feel safer because of the air marshals?[/i]

    well, i think they’re probably more effective, cheaper, and less exasperating than the bogus security bullshit we all go through.

  22. R C-

    I agree that they need to board like any other passenger, and I know there aren’t metal detectors at the gate. But there are metal detectors at the terminal entrance. I was trying (not very clearly, I know) to say that I can see why they don’t want to enter the terminal through the usual checkpoint, since they’ll have to identify themselves to the TSA.

    Anyway, it looks like they’ve picked the worst possible solution to the problem: Special pre-boarding that clearly sets them apart.

  23. I occasionally shoot IDPA with some air marshalls. I can tell you that they are among the best shooting cops I’ve ever seen. Trust me when I say that a huge percentage of cops out there should not be taking hostage shots. These guys are clean and fast.

    They gripe about the uniform requirements too. I don’t know if it is a national standard, but they shoot Sig P229s in .357 SIG. Steel and alloy, medium frame critters that get 11-12 rounds I think. The problem is that whatever they use as a covering garment has to allow them to conceal very well and still clear their holsters demon fast. Things that cover well tend to make you uncomfortable on long flights, and you need an excuse to have a heavier cover than everyone else in July. Sport coats and suits were the first approved garments that meet these criteria.

  24. I think air marshalls should all be disguised as petite but stacked ex-strippers with big hair.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.