TSA To Allow Small Knives And 'Sports Sticks' On Airliners

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Travelers wait in line to go through TSA screening in the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia
Travelers wait in line to go through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening in the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

The Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday that airline travelers will now be allowed to bring small knives, golf clubs and hockey sticks into passenger airline cabins. This is the first time these items have been allowed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

TSA chief John Pistole made the announcement at a news conference in New York City, stating that the changes will take effect April 25.

"This change allows TSA to focus on the threats that can cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft," the TSA stated to USA Today. New regulations that boost security inside airplanes make these prohibitions redundant, it said. The TSA pointed to armed pilots and air marshals and reinforced cockpit doors as more effective security measures.

The new regulations will now allow knives with non-locking blades and blades under 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) long and one-half inch wide. Also allowed will be golf clubs, toy bays, ski poles, pool cues, and other sports-related sticks.

While small knives will now be allowed on commercial airliners, razor blades and box cutters will remain prohibited, largely due to their use in the Sept. 11 hijackings.

While the TSA believes that the new regulations will be make little difference, many in the airline industry disagree.

"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," Stacy K. Martin, president of Southwest Airlines' flight attendants union, TWU Local 556, told the Los Angeles Times. “This policy was designed to make the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer.”

"Today's announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and short-sighted decision by the TSA," the union said in a statement. "As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure."

Another flight attendants union simply saw the new regulations as a hassle.

"There's less space than ever in overhead bins, and on some particular aircraft safely storing these large items will be impossible," Kelly Skyles, safety and security coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, told the LA Times. "Add to that the cramped confines of an airplane cabin, and you have the potential for passengers getting hit with these items during boarding and deplaning. It's a recipe for disaster."

Read the full list of the soon-to-be allowed items, courtesy of the TSA.

  • Knives without a molded grip and with blades that don't lock and are less than 6 centimeters or 2.36 inches.
  • Novelty-size and toy bats less than 24 inches long and weighing less than 24 ounces.
  • Billiard cues, ski poles, hockey and lacrosse sticks, and two golf clubs as part of carry-on baggage.
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