TSA allows small knives in carry on bags, flight attendants object

A TSA rule change allowing travelers to take “small knives” in their carry-on luggage has seen blowback from flight attendants. Photo: TSA.gov

ATLANTA, March 12, 2012 – Travelers can soon take “small knives” in their carry-on luggage, under a rule change announced this month by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“This is part of an overall Risk-Based Security approach, which allows Transportation Security Officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives,” the agency said in its statement outlining its rationale. The change, effective April 25, also aligns “more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.”

With the change, the TSA “will allow knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs as part of their carry-on baggage.”

But, the proposal has seen blowback from flight attendants and the CEO of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

“Flight Attendants are outraged,” the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents nearly 90,000 Flight Attendants at carriers nationwide, said in a statement. “We are the last line of defense in aviation security and time does not change the fact that we were among the first to die in a war we didn’t know we were fighting on September 11, 2001. At great cost, we know better today. There is no excuse for this.”

Added the coalition, which started a petition to reverse the policy change on The White House’s website: “Our nation’s aviation system is the safest in the world thanks to multi-layered security measures that include prohibition on many items that could pose a threat to the integrity of the aircraft cabin. The continued ban on dangerous objects is an integral layer in aviation security and must remain in place.”

Delta CEO Richard Anderson offered a similar sentiment. In a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole, Anderson said knives “will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers,” The Associated Press reported.

“If the purpose is to increase security checkpoint flow, there are much more effective steps we can take together to streamline the security checkpoints with risk-based screening mechanisms,” he added, according to The Associated Press.

The proposal has also found critics in Congress. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security said he and two other Congressmen are planning to send a letter to Pistole objecting to the new policy.

“Americans continue to be mystified by TSA and this latest decision is another example of a questionable TSA policy,” Swalwell said in a statement. “Before allowing dangerous potential weapons on planes, TSA should have at least meaningfully consulted with flight attendants, pilots and other stakeholders to ensure public safety.”

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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo jouned The Washington Times Communities in May 2012. He covers travel and Georgia. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He also serves as editor of The Travel Trolley.


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