Cumberland Times-News

March 6, 2013

Flying knives

Congress should force TSA to reverse its decision

Cumberland Times-News

— Who feels good about the Transportation Security Administration’s policy change that allows airline passengers to be able to carry small knives on planes?

While the agency says the change will not jeopardize passenger safety and allow its employees to concentrate efforts on more serious safety threats, the new rule — which will take effect April 25 — is bound to be disconcerting to most people who board planes.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said the new policy conforms to international standards. It 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. Box cutters, razor blades and knives that don’t fold or that have molded grip handles will still be prohibited.

Passengers will 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.”

We agree that this policy change is dangerous. It also sends a message that the TSA is not being as diligent about passenger safety as it was in the years immediately following 9-11.

Congress should intervene and force the TSA to reverse its decision.