The Air Marshal on My Flight


The Air Marshal on My Flight
by Faramarz

I picked up a new hobby after 9/11 and I have been doing it ever since. These days, whenever I travel internationally, while I wait at the terminal to board the plane, I look at the faces of the passengers and try to guess who the Air Marshal on my flight is!

It all started back in October 2002 when my good friend, Jean Pierre (JP) and I travelled to France to check out the culinary scene in Lyon. Let me tell you a little bit about him. JP is a few years older than I am. He is a French guy who was born in Algeria when France ran the place. His father had a official position there. When he was a kid, he and his family had to pack up and leave in a hurry because the Algerian Resistance was defeating the French. He later on moved to the US, got married and settled here.

As we were waiting to board our connecting flight from New York to Paris, I sensed that somebody was watching me.  You know that feeling when you are busy doing something and all of a sudden, from the corner of your eye you catch someone checking you out. I calmly looked at him. The guy was wearing shades. His head was not moving, but you could see that his eyes were moving and observing everyone’s movements. He wore a pair of jeans, a short sleeve shirt and a pair of Nikes. He seemed to be in very good shape and ready to chase anyone down the aisle! And, he did not have any carry on luggage either. He was the first guy that boarded the plane, even before the First Class and the frequent flyers.

“Hey JP, can you guess who the Air Marshal on our flight is?” I quietly asked JP who was busy reading a book. He looked around but couldn’t come up with anything. I quietly whispered to him, “Don’t look now, but near the boarding ramp, there is a tall, skinny guy in jeans. I think that he is the one!” JP was not convinced!

We got on board and settled in our seats; two isle seats across from each other. And there he was, three rows back, on an isle seat with the full view of us and the left side of the cabin.

“Whatever you do, don’t make a sudden move or go towards the lavatories in the front! I don’t want to get this guy excited! Just use the lavatories in the back or wait till we get to Paris!” I told JP jokingly.

A few minutes later, we saw an attractive Middle-Eastern looking woman walking down the isle and coming towards us.

“Check her out! I wonder where she is from! She might be from your neck of the woods!” JP said. She looked exotic with long black hair and big brown eyes. She definitely had Middle-Eastern genes, but she seemed friendly and at ease, as if she was raised in a more relaxed environment!

She was carrying a musical instrument box, the size of a violin. Her window seat was three rows back and right across from the Air Marshal. As she was struggling to put her stuff in the overhead bin, I quickly got up and helped her put the musical instrument away.

“What type of instrument do you play?” I asked.

The instrument was like a violin with a short bow.  She said that she was Brazilian of Syrian decent and was heading to Barcelona to perform in a musical festival. I was surprised how forthcoming she was with her personal information. Maybe she felt a connection, who knows.

The Air Marshal quietly sat there and took in our interaction. I had read about a lawless, tri-border region in South America in between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina where Hezbollah was getting its funding from Lebanese and Syrian immigrants. The Buenos Aires terrorists came from that area also.

I went back to my seat. “Did you find out where she is from?” JP asked.

“She is from the Hezbollah region of Brazil! Now it all makes sense! Your American passport says that you were born in Algeria. Mine says that I was born in Iran. With her on the flight, we have the “Axis of Evil” at 35,000 feet! No wonder they put an Air Marshal on this flight!”

After the take off, the attendants served some good French wine. I asked one of them if I could buy a drink for the gentleman who sat on the isle seat, three rows back! She went back there and talked to him. He gave me a serious look and said, “No thanks!” I think that by now he had figured out that there were no terrorists on this flight. But I was not going to take the chance and walk towards the cockpit!

JP and I decided to have a little fun with the Air Marshal. JP knows a few phrases in Farsi that he uses all the time. Every time, we went to the lavatory in the back, as we passed by the Marshal, we said, “I am going to the bathroom sir!” and then we put our right hands across our chests, bow our heads slightly and without making an eye contact, say, “Chaakeram! Mokhlesam! Safaa to!”


ما مخلصیم


صفا تو

He just ignored us completely!

When the flight landed in Paris and everyone got into the Immigration line, I saw him being escorted by a French policeman through a “Do Not Exit” door. He was definitely an Air Marshal!

On the flight back from France, I kept looking for the Air Marshal, but couldn’t spot any. I guess that the guy must have written a good report on us!

As new immigrants to this land, we have seen a lot and been through a lot, but by relying on our wisdom and character, as well as our family and our friends, we have been able to overcome many obstacles and grow stronger every day. The future is bright!

Here is a small cognac maker in the Cognac region of France and one of my favorites.



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هی ........آی کیو




تا وقتی اسم «تو» رو نبردم و با «تو» حرف نزدم و به «تو» اشاره نکردم اندازهء گلیمت رو بشناس!

این بار آخرت باشه، شیر(؟) فهم شد؟ بز حیران میان دو گلّه؟ حالا برو ساندیس سبزت رو سر بکش!

Sargord Pirouz


by Sargord Pirouz on

Yes, I vote for the more liberal candidate in Iranian elections. And I'm in favor of the country liberalizing. 

You? You don't vote. You don't count. All you're left with hate and frustration. To a degree, that's understandable. It must be difficult to face up to the fact that you were rejected by the Meehan. We get it.

Masoud Kazemzadeh

On Terrorist Regime Supporters like Sargord Pirouz

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on


Yes, we can talk about, and condemn, racial profiling.

But terrorists and supporters of terrorist entities like Mohammad Ata, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad,  bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Sargord Pirouz, John Walker Lind, and other supporters of terrorist entities (e.g., al Qaeda, the fundamentalist terrorist regime ruling Iran, Hezbollah), cannot use that as cover.





but I do believe that Q has a point about racial profiling

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

in General, although he is putting it very badly and out of context.

Since 9/11 all muslims are being racially profiled. The cause (not the justification!) for that is the terrorist attacks by islamists on the west. Now we can start discussing this but not sure if we want to open another can of worm at this late hour of sunday....

Masoud Kazemzadeh


by Masoud Kazemzadeh on


Yeah, I know.

I am enjoying seeing how my post make the fundamentalist terrorist Sargord Pirouz, all of the sudden become liberal and for peace.



Sargord Pirouz


by Sargord Pirouz on

You guys are funny. 

I wonder how many times you've been looked at by others as terrorists in your adopted settings. Post-embassy takeover? Post-9/11? My guess is hundreds of times.

Me? Let's just say I'm more confident of my First Ammendment rights, given the fact that I'm not naturalized, unlike you guys. 

That is to say, I don't have to go totally overboard in demonstrating that I'm not one of the bad guys, like you guys do. Hence, the underlying factor for the extreme views and behavior you exhibit. 

Me? I'm a liberal, in both worlds. And I'm realistic: being liberal means different things to either world. But I like to think I'm capable of supporting the one (America), while accepting the other (Iran). That's really the foundation of advocating peace and understanding between the two worlds.

So Massoud, you think your children would understand that? If so, then they're better persons than you. 



by Q on

It was NOT racial profiling. It is ideological-political profiling.

Oh my god!

I am a DEMOCRAT. Duuuuuh.

Wow, you really don't get it, do you?

Thanks for the textbook definition of sophistry, Kazemzadeh. I am personally going to cherish this one.


Dear Masoud; great response, but I wish you'd have left poor SP

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

out of it! He must be basking in glory reading your comments, but honestly, the poor fella is just too young, a bit of day dreamer. I got three young boys , between 5 and 8, and see lots of similarities between Sargord's behaviour and my boys. attention seeking and hero worshipping. My boys like batman and sargord likes ahmadi! I am keeping a close eye on my boys and seriously restrict their internet access. I wish sargord's parents would do the same! 

Masoud Kazemzadeh

dear Faramarz

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Faramarz jaan,

Thank you.



Masoud Kazemzadeh

Supporters of the Terrorist Regime are Supporters of Terrorist .

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on


It was NOT racial profiling. It is ideological-political profiling. Supporters of the fundamentalist terrorist regime or supporters of al Qaeda, or supporters of Lebanese Hezbollah are supporters of TERRORISM. Heloooooooooo.

Sargord, Mohammad Ata, bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, Hassan Nasrollah, al Zawahiri are supporters of TERRORIST entities.

Terrorist entities: the fundamentalist terrorist regime ruling Iran, al Qaeda, Hezbollah.

Therefore supporters of the above entities are supporters of TERRORISM.

I am a DEMOCRAT. Duuuuuh.

If someone is ideologically, politically supportive of good democratic ideologies and policies, it would be racial profiling to be worried about them.

To say being concerned about terrorist activities of supporters of the terrorist regime ruling Iran is like saying being concerned about terrorist activities of al Qaeda. It is NOT racial profiling. The terrorist could be the John Walker Lind (sp?), but he was a supporter of Taliban (and al Qaeda), therefore, like Sargord Pirouz and all other supporters of the fundamentalist terrorist regime, due to their support for a terrorist entity, any sane person has to be concerned about them.





once again, Kazehmzadeh

by Q on

not funny! Try again.

But that's not longer surprising.

It is rather shameful that fellow Iranians (Kazemzadeh and Majid) are contributing to racial profiling, even while they themselves will be the victim of it. It's instructive on how some people "see" themselves versus the reality of who they are.

I wonder how much actual "nationalism" is truly left in the bottoms of those aged fossils?


Faramarz, this is not to pick on you, but your story did remind me of it. The only terrorism I have experienced on long flights has been being forced to listen to bad, horrible, pick up lines by yuppy dorks who think they are Don Juan of the airways!

Why don't they have federal marshalls for that? I would gladly pay the increased taxes!

Sargord Pirouz

Massoud and co

by Sargord Pirouz on

Yeah, the fear and loathing factor can get pretty bad. I'm sure everyone here's had a dose of it. 


راوی سنی بوده!


مجید جان، کاظم خان،

این حرف های سرگرد همش کشکه!

دیوانه جان،

ما مخلصیم ، ما بیشتر!  



by Majid on

Honestly I would rather WALK to Hawaii, it's safer!


Chakerim, Mokhlesim

by divaneh on

Thanks for sharing that memory Faramarz. I make sure I get a bottle of that Cognac (If it's not overly expensive) as you seem to know what you are talking about.

Sargord Pirouz

In 2002 I flew to Hawaii.

by Sargord Pirouz on

In 2002 I flew to Hawaii. There was so much tension at the airport! ANG troops with loaded M16s near the ticket gates, and the like.

When I walked toward my passenger gate, I could read the faces of the people waiting for the flight. They were saying to themselves:

"Please don't be on my flight, please don't be on my flight..."

When I sat down at our passenger gate, a big collective sigh went out.

Upon boarding, I was the only passenger that didn't have anybody seated next to them. And a law enforcement type was seated directly across from me. 

Other than that, the flight was uneventful.

As we all know, the tension at the airport these days has subsided. And the security measures are better, while at the same time less intimidating. I've even seen women muslim airport workers praying on the floor of the terminal, in Washington DC. No big deal, anymore.

Having a law enforcement figure on an international flight is a welcome addition.


The Cavity Check

by Faramarz on

Ali P.,

I should have done what you said and thanked him for his services. But back then, there was so much panic and incompetence that I could have ended up at Guantanamo!

I have nightmares about the white gloves and the cavity check!

The last time that it happened, I fainted!

Cousin Mehrdad,
Thanks for the advanced warning! I will stay away from all the tall buildings in Atlanta until you are safely back home!

Use the emergency brakes, if needed! Do you have parachutes?


With an Eastern European last name and a passport stamped with the Islamic Republic, you are definitely one of us!

How about a Persian first name for you? Do you fancy anything?

It has to be something dreamy! How about Shabnam!

Or something foodie, like Golpar!

Loved your cognac place!

Temporary Bride


by Temporary Bride on

Hey F'marz,

You sound like the perfect travelling companion. I would love to sit next to you on a plane one day and talk food and drink. Especially one where we could play video games against each other -  I think we'd have a blast. Is that strange?  

Here's my favourite cognac producer - a tiny little place.


Btw - if its any consolation, having a strange East European surname and 3 Iranian visas in one's passport doesn't make for smooth travel either. The world is a messed up place these days!


P.S. I loved the translation of 'safaa to'. Its like being in South Tehran again! 


Ditto MM jaan.

by Bavafa on

Cousin Framarz,

آدم عاقل با دمب شیر بازی نمی‌کنه

Since I finished the plane, I like to fly my own plane as much as possible.  This way, I get to wear the glove if I choose to  


I am going on a x-country trip from CA  to Atlanta next weekend and looking forward to a long x-country flight. 



I'm glad you were not subjected to full-glove treatment!

by MM on


Ali P.

Did you shake his hand...

by Ali P. on

...and thank him for the service he provided? :-)