The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that starting April 25, airline passengers will be allowed to bring small knives, souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment with them when they travel.
This change is already the international standard, and TSA said abolishing the old standard would ease their burden in finding more serious threats.
Flight attendant and airline workers’ unions were disturbed by the announcement; Transport Workers Union Local 556, comprised of over 10,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines, said the new standard was “dangerous… shortsighted.” The union claimed it would “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.”
David Castelveter, a TSA spokesman, claimed that airlines can defuse any threat if the plane's pilots carry guns or federal air marshals or crew members trained in self-defense are present.
Folding knives that are 2.36 inches or less in length and are less than 1/2-inch wide will be permitted. Pen-knives and corkscrews with small blades fall into this category. Novelty-sized baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, and two golf clubs will also be allowed. Box cutters and razor blades are still off-limits, as well as knives that don’t fold and knives with molded grip handles.
John L. Sullivan, co-founder of the Welsh-Sullivan Group in Dallas, said these items “don’t present any greater danger than other everyday items that passengers can turn into weapons, aviation security consultant said. A pen or a toothbrush can be sharpened into a knife like the ‘shivs’ inmates sometimes make in prisons… There are a lot of things you can use on an airplane if you are intent on hurting someone. Security is never 100 percent.”
Douglas Laird, a former security director at Northwest Airlines, said, “After 9/11, TSA did a lot of things pretty fast without thinking it through. They have better things to do than look for a guy who’s got a 2-inch knife.”