Cumberland Times-News

April 23, 2013

No knives

TSA should not delay small cutlery ban on flights

Cumberland Times-News

— Give credit to flight attendants and members of Congress for forcing the Transportation Security Administration’s hand on the senseless decision to allow  passengers to carry small knives on airplanes.

The attendants and lawmakers pressured TSA Administrator John Pistole to reverse the decision to allow knives and some sporting equipment onto planes. On Monday, Pistole sent an email to his employees saying the policy has been delayed.

The agency later posted a brief statement on its website: “In order to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC), which includes representatives from the aviation community, passenger advocates, law enforcement experts, and other stakeholders, TSA will temporarily delay implementation of changes to the Prohibited Items List, originally scheduled to go into effect April 25.”

When the policy was first announced, Pistole said the change would conform to international standards. It would permit folding knives with blades that are 2.36 inches or less in length and are less than 1/2-inch wide. The policy was aimed at allowing passengers to carry pen knives, corkscrews with small blades and other knives. Box cutters, razor blades and knives that don’t fold or that have molded grip handles are still be prohibited.

Passengers would also be allowed to bring onboard as part of their carry-on luggage novelty-sized baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs, the agency said.

The announcement drew immediate protests from the union representing flight attendants. The Transportation Workers Union called the new policy “dangerous” and “shortsighted,” saying it was designed to make “the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer.” The union statement added: “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 delay in implementing the change is welcome news. But Congress and airline personnel need to continue to keep the pressure on the TSA to make sure the idea is dropped for good. Allowing knives of any size on airplanes is just asking for trouble.