ARLINGTON, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Airline passengers will be able to carry small knives, souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment onto planes beginning April 25 under a policy change announced in March by the head of the Transportation Security Administration.
The new policy conforms U.S. security standards to international standards, and allows TSA to concentrate its energies on more serious safety threats, the agency said in a statement.
The announcement, made by TSA Administrator John Pistole at an airline industry gathering in New York, drew an immediate outcry from unions representing flight attendants and other airline workers, who said the items are still dangerous in the hands of the wrong passengers.
Robert Valenta is a flight attendant with American Airlines and is among those trying to stop the TSA rule change. He’s been handing out “No Knives, Ever Again” postcards at Reagan National and says passengers have been supportive of his message.
“Everybody seems to agree with our position that weapons are not to be on the airplane,” he told WNEW’s Karen Adams on Friday. “We find it completely unacceptable and we’re really confused as to why this would even be a topic of conversation right now.”
Some passengers she spoke with say they’re actually OK with the impending rule change. Others said it should be dependent on how comfortable flight attendants are with it.
The policy change was based on a recommendation from an internal TSA working group, which decided the items represented no real danger, said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the agency.
The presence on flights of gun-carrying pilots traveling as passengers, federal air marshals and airline crew members trained in self-defense provide additional layers of security to protect against misuse of the items, he said. However, not all flights have federal air marshals or armed pilots onboard.
The new policy permits folding knives with blades that are 2.36 inches or less in length and are less than 1/2-inch wide. The policy is aimed at allowing passengers to carry pen knives, corkscrews with small blades and other knives.
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