Created on: March 06, 2013
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will now permit travelers to carry small knives, hockey sticks (a maximum of two), billiard cues, lacrosse sticks, wiffle ball bats and golf clubs into airline cabins for the first time since 2001. TSA Chief John Pistole announced Tuesday that the change will take into effect on Apr. 25.
Pistole made the announcement and outlined the changes at a security conference in New York and noted that the adjustments are intended to meet international rules. The TSA leader stressed the importance of focusing on big risk threats to the aircraft rather than items that will just hold customers to the same security standards.
Although travelers are now allowed to carry knives, they must be blades no larger than 2.36 inches long and no more than half an inch wide. Knifes with a fixed blade or locking knives will still be prohibited and knives with moulded grips, razors and box cutters will remain banned.
Security experts say that this is the first major loosening in policy restrictions since the tragic terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The entire list of revised prohibited items can be found on its website here.
“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 TSA said in a released on its website Tuesday.
The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents approximately 90,000 flight attendants across the United States, criticized the “poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA.
“As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure,” the organization said in a statement.
Stacy K. Martin, president of Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants union, TWU Local 556, told CBS News that even though items like hockey sticks and wffle ball bats pose less of a risk they are still real threats to passengers and flight attendants.
“When you look back before 9/11, all it took was box cutters coming through. At this point you have knives, small knives, it's all the same to us,” said Martin. “They're allowing these items to come through and they're putting the responsibility of the cabin completely on us even though they know coming through security are these items.”
However, the TSA noted other security parameters have been implemented, such as armed federal air marshals, hardened cockpit doors, crew members with self-defense training and armed pilots.
Flyers and aviation experts think it’s a step in the right direction. One flyer told the Associated Press that “it’s common sense” and that “you can make anything into a knife.” Another flyer believes the change will be “helpful.”
“There are a lot of things you can use on an airplane if you are intent on hurting someone," said John L. Sullivan, co-founder of the Welsh-Sullivan Group in Dallas. "Security is never 100 percent."
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