TSA Will Teach Flight Attendants How To Beat Up Unruly Passengers

When David Dao was dragged off of a United Express aircraft and bloodied, the carrier outsourced the dirty work to Chicago Aviation Police.

The TSA, though, has a program to teach flight attendants how to do this themselves. It’s been suspended during the pandemic. But the TSA announced today that they are bringing it back. Cabin crew can register here for classes in the city of their choice.

The TSA CMSD Training Program furnishes certified instructors to provide flight crew members with effective defensive measure techniques for responding against an attacker in a commercial passenger or cargo aircraft. During the training, flight crew members learn to identify and deter potential threats, and if needed, apply the self-defense techniques against attackers. The voluntary four-hour training is offered to flight crew members free of charge and is held at 24 locations around the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security has prioritized this because of “unruly passenger incidents on the rise.” 76% of incidents reported to the FAA have been about masks. So if you refuse to wear your mask, you may face a fine, a banning by the airline, and getting your butt kicked by a flight attendant.

It’s not clear how much good the training is likely to do because it’s taught by air marshals, members of the least effective law enforcement agency in the country. There have been more air marshals arrested than people arrested by air marshals, and they cost about $200 million per arrest (not even conviction).

There was the air marshal who sued because he was denied his onboard meal choice, and the one who left his loaded gun in the bathroom (Godfather-style). Another left a handgun in an airplane lavatory, it was discovered by a teenager. Then there was the one who pulled his service weapon on two civilians in a parking space dispute at New York JFK. And that barely scratches the surface.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What the hell is wrong with you?

    You are the most miserable man ever. Karma will get you one day, hopefully on a flight when you’re most vulnerable no one is going to help you.

  2. I figure that there are a whole lot more unruly passengers than unruly flight attendants so if this turns out to be even modestly effective it’ll be an improvement that helps keep things from getting worse.

  3. Hopefully, the TSA’s Crew Member Self-Defense (CMSD) training will help flight attendants fend off and survive violent assaults, homicides, and shootings when they are required to sleep overnight in a sketchy crew hotel located in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

  4. These are self defense classes and have been offered for years, actually for the past two decades.

    Maybe instead of giving examples of FAM’s (Air Marshals) misbehaving, give examples of the many times flight attendants have had to use these and other skills on misbehaving passengers? It happens and they have prevented access to the cockpit many times as they are taught to protect the cockpit at ALL cost.

  5. This is all good. At 30,000 feet at a speed of 550 knots the last thing you want is shenanigans going on, in the end all everybody really wants is to have a landing where you can walk away from!!! The only issue I see is scope creep ever since TSA was created. Remember this were contracted luggage checkers in the past. Since their creation and like all government programs is always trying to over reach. With their sanzy uniform and badge there has been a political push From with in to move TSA guards under title 40. This would be dangerous presence in becoming a police state. We have plenty of local and state including federal law enforcement presence at air ports. On top let’s observe fiscal restraints and work with the resources we have already!!!!

  6. Stop spreading your BS GARY, we have been doing these classes in our annual qualifications since 9-11.

  7. Or, they could just do away with the mask mandates since you don’t have to wear them anywhere else. Oh yeah, that would mean that they give people their freedom back….. guess that won’t happen anytime soon.

  8. The CMSD training program might not be effective because “because it’s taught by air marshals”? So if the exact same training was taught by the FBI it would be effective? Don’t look, but your irrational bias is showing!

    You can do better Gary.

  9. Wow, it’s about to get all kung fu in the cabin, FA’s are about to kick some ass

  10. These self-defense techniques are for use against drunk/insane people who engage in violent behavior.
    Being maskless without violent behavior will not result in the self-defense techniques being used.

    THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK, FOLKS. Due to the cabin altitude, alcohol is much more intoxicating inflight than on the ground. Resist the urge to stop by the airport’s bar before boarding. If you feel the need to drink alcohol when traveling, do it in your arrival airport.
    If you think that you might physically attack someone even without consuming alcohol, please don’t travel. Instead, consider anger management.

  11. @K.C. Cooper, please check the latest science. Altitude doesn’t make alcohol more intoxicating. This is a placebo perception. The rest of your comment is on point, though. I would say to avoid in-airport bars, but for a different reason. They mostly suck! (Exception for first class lounges.)

  12. I heard Gary’s status at AA is in jeopardy. Finally getting fed up with his BS.

    Gary, you so realize headlines like this put airline employees in jeopardy, as some twisted pax will see this as a challenge and your pot stirring is not appreciated by anyone.

    How they ban you from flying.

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