News Column

TSA Reverses Course, Says No to Knives on Planes

June 5, 2013
Airline security graphic

In a sharp reversal of a proposal to allow knives in the cabin of passenger planes, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday it will continue to ban small pocket knives, golf clubs, toy baseball bats and hockey and lacrosse sticks on board airplanes.

The agency said after "extensive engagement" with law enforcement officials, passenger advocates, flight attendants, pilots, air marshals and TSA screeners, it would "continue to enforce the current prohibited items list" of what airline passengers may carry onto planes.

TSA administrator John Pistole touched off a firestorm when he announced the rule change. Last month, 145 members of Congress signed a letter asking Pistole to keep the current policy.

"TSA's top priority continues to be expansion of efforts to implement a layered, risk-based security approach to passenger screening," the agency said. "We will continue to take steps to improve our ever-evolving security posture, while also improving the experience of the traveling public."

TSA maintained that relaxing restrictions on small knives and other banned objects would align the United States with international standards and free up security screeners to focus on the greatest threat: explosive devices.

TSA confiscates 2,000 knives a day at airports.

The Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions, representing 90,000 flight attendants, commended the TSA for keeping knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches off passenger planes.

"Terrorists armed only with knives killed thousands of Americans on 9/11/2001," the group said. "As the women and men on the front lines in the air, we vowed to do everything in our power to protect passengers and flight crews from harm and prevent that type of atrocity from happening ever again."

Small knives were banned, along with other sharp objects, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In 2005, the ban was relaxed after cockpit doors were reinforced and pilots were trained to carry guns. Currently, passengers may carry four-inch scissors, knitting needles, and small hand tools such as screwdrivers in the cabin.

The potential threat has shifted to terrorists' attempting to bring down planes with bombs.

Source: (c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by MCT Information Services

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