The Association of Flight Attendants says the current policy that requires air marshals to wear a suit and tie and short hair endangers passengers and crew.
Although air marshals were originally allowed to make their own decisions as to their appearance, they must now wear very formal wear, making them easily identifiable. AFA says this defeats the purpose of silently protecting passengers.
If they were allowed to wear jeans and have long hair and tattoos air marshals would be better able to blend in with the crowd and keep potential terrorists guessing as to which flights they might be on, deterring attacks.
“Under current rules, air marshals often look like FBI or Secret Service agents straight out of Central Casting,” says AFA International President Pat Friend.
In April, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which counts among its 22,000 members employees of the Federal Air Marshal Service, presented similar concerns to Congress.
“The current dress code and military grooming policy compromise air marshals’ identities, thus gravely jeopardizing aviation security. Easy identification of air marshals permits terrorists to distinguish between flights air marshals will be protecting, and more importantly, flights they won’t be protecting,” said John Adler, first vice president of FLEOA.