The Transportation Security Administration is finally loosening up some of its strict rules since the September 11 terrorist attacks, one of which includes allowing passengers to carry small knives, golf clubs, hockey sticks and pool cues.
It will take effect on April 25. The policy is already being criticized by flight attendants, who say it will create an unnecessary risk and crowd the already stuffed overhead bins.
“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, said.
TSA said the change would help align the rules of prohibited items on American flights with those of international carriers, and will also reduce the time passengers spend going through security.
“This change allows TSA to focus on the threats that can cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft,” TSA said.
Though liquids are still banned, the change will remove small knives, sporting equipment like golf clubs, billiard cues, ski poles, and hockey sticks from the list of prohibited items.
They also emphasized that security measures are in place to protect U.S. planes, including tougher cockpit doors, armed federal air marshals, armed pilots and crew members with self-defense training.
“The policy change was based on recommendation from an internal TSA working group, which decided the items represented no real danger,” David Castelveter, spokesman for the agency, said.
Things like box cutters, razor blades and knives that don’t fold or have molded grip handles will remain prohibited.
Travelers have so far expressed positive reactions to the change.
“I figure small knives are appropriate and fine,” said Becca Wong of Los Angeles. “People carry pocket knives on them daily on the street so I’m just as at risk there versus on an airplane. So I’m not really too concerned about it.”
“Just a little small pocketknife that most people have isn’t going to do a whole lot of damage to anybody,” Matt Shaw, also of Los Angeles, said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”