United in-flight attack could have been avoided if air marshals weren’t at border: union

Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston were forced to take down a man trying to stab a flight attendant last year — because there were no air marshals present due to their continued deployments to the southern border, The Post has learned.

During the height of the border crisis, the federal government has been sending 200 air marshals to the border on 21-day deployments, leaving major flights vulnerable to threats, Sonya LaBosco, a retired supervisory federal air marshal who speaks on behalf of the Air Marshal National Council, told The Post.

A group of United Airlines Flight 2609 passengers were forced to take down a man trying to stab an attendant on a flight that had no Air Marshals present in March 2023. NBC Boston

From her own experience, LaBosco knew the LA to Boston route was one that was always staffed by marshals. She became even more concerned when passengers of a March 2023 Flight 2609 began contacting her, knowing they were left to tackle the threatening passenger on their own.

“Because we had deployed air marshals to the border, there was no air marshals on that flight,” she said.

“So our worst fears were coming true every day with the in-flight incidents that were occurring that air marshals would have been on those flights to keep passengers from being injured.”

Air marshals have been deployed to the southern border by the hundreds, leaving some flights less secure. NBC Boston

That day — and any other day — air marshals have been deployed to the border, they’ve been there merely “handing out water, making sandwiches, Uber Eats runs … bringing diapers and stuff into the facilities and unloading trucks,” LaBosco said, adding that it’s “absolutely ridiculous.”

By taking air marshals away from their law enforcement duties, while also releasing millions of migrants crossing the southern border illegally who then often fly commercially, there are major concerns that the next 9/11 could easily happen, LaBosco said.

“The long-haul flights are super important for us to be on
because those are the same flights the 9/11 hijackers actually targeted and took that day.”

Sonya LaBosco of the Air Marshal National Council

In recent months, federal authorities have been conducting major sweeps of alleged ISIS terrorists and those associated with terror-tied smuggling rings who have been released into the country via the southern border. Some still remain at large.

“The long-haul flights are super important for us to be on because those are the same flights the 9/11 hijackers actually targeted and took that day on 9/11.”

That worry is something a federal watchdog highlighted in a recent report concerning airplane security while the understaffed air marshals were tied up at the southern border.

That report found that Transportation Security Administration, which oversees air marshals, failed to “assess the operational impacts” the deployments had on its “primary mission of safeguarding the nation’s transportation system.”

TSA didn’t assess the level of risk posed by deploying air marshals to the border, a federal watchdog recently found. NBC Boston

“Without establishing performance measures and assessing risks related to deploying air marshals, TSA cannot ensure deployments did not impact FAMs mission to mitigate potential risks and threats to our nation’s transportation system…” the report states.

The watchdog also found that TSA spent $45 million on the border deployments between May 2019 and August 2023,

“With respect to costs, TSA incurred approximately $45 million in travel and payroll costs associated with the deployment of air marshals to the southwest border from May 2019 to August 2023,” the report states.

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