TSA to allow small knives, bats, clubs on planes - WNCN: News, Weather

TSA to allow small knives, bats, clubs on planes

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Air travelers at RDU are reacting to the prospect of letting small knives on aircraft starting next month.

It's a move the Transportation Security Administration says won't compromise safety, but some passengers don't believe it.

"I'm not sure I agree with that," said traveler Judey Comiskey. "It's a weapon."

The TSA says airline passengers will be able to carry small knives, souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment onto planes beginning next month.

The new policy conforms U.S. security standards to international standards and allows the TSA to concentrate its energies on more serious safety threats, the agency said.

"We are trying to focus on the highest risk. That being the non-metallic improvised explosive devices," said TSA administrator John Pistole.

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.

"Two inches, I guess you probably can't do too much damage but it seems like you could still definitely hurt someone with it. I'd be a little scared of it," said RDU traveler Grayson Gallagher.

Others WNCN spoke with were befuddled by the decision.

"I don't understand," said traveler Colleen Krauss. "I can't carry my shampoo but they will let people carry knives. It doesn't make much sense to me." 

Passengers also will be allowed to bring onboard novelty-sized baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs according to the TSA.

Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents over 10,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines, called the new policy "dangerous" and "short sighted," saying it was designed to make "the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer."
    
"While we agree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golf club or hockey stick poses less of a threat to the pilot locked in the cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flight attendants in the passenger cabin," the union said in a statement.
    
"The policy change was based on a recommendation from an internal TSA working group, which decided the items represented no real danger," said TSA spokesman David Castelveter.
    
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. However, not all flights have federal air marshals or armed pilots onboard.

Security standards adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, already call for passengers to be able to carry those items. Those standards are non-binding, but many countries follow them.
    
Box cutters, razor blades and knives that don't fold or that have molded grip handles will still be prohibited, the TSA said.
    
There has been a gradual easing of some of the security measures applied to airline passengers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In 2005, the TSA changed its policies to allow passengers to carry small scissors, knitting needles, tweezers, nail clippers and up to four books of matches. The move came as the agency turned its focus toward keeping explosives off planes, because intelligence officials believed that was the greatest threat to commercial aviation.
    
In September 2011, the TSA no longer required children 12-years-old and under to remove their shoes at airport checkpoints. The agency recently issued new guidelines for travelers 75-years-old and older so they can avoid removing shoes and light jackets when they go through airport security checkpoints.

  • DIG DEEPER: Click here to see pictures of exactly what the TSA will and will not allow on aircraft. You can also read details of the updated regulations.

             MATERIAL FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WAS USED IN THIS REPORT.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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