Knives on a plane?

Delta Air Lines CEO opposes TSA policy on knives.
Associated Press
Mar 9, 2013

The head of Delta Air Lines on Friday joined the growing opposition to the Transportation Security Administration's new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives onto planes.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole that he shares the "legitimate concerns" of the airline's flight attendants about the new policy.

Allowing small knives to be carried on board after a ban of more than 11 years "will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers," Anderson said in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

"If the purpose is to increase security checkpoint flow, there are much more effective steps we can take together to streamline the security checkpoints with risk-based screening mechanisms," he said.

Delta, based in Atlanta, is the world's second-largest airline. It is the first major airline to join not only flight attendants but pilots, federal air marshals and insurance companies in a burgeoning backlash to the policy. Pistole announced the policy on Tuesday.

TSA spokesman David Castelveter declined to comment on the letter. He said TSA plans to implement the policy on April 25 as scheduled.

Airlines for America, a trade association representing major U.S. airlines, has been supportive of TSA without explicitly endorsing the policy.

"We support the TSA's approach of combining its vast experience with billions of passenger screenings with thorough risk-based assessments," Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for the association, said in response to a request Friday for the association's position.

Anderson cited only small knives in his letter. The policy will also allow passengers to include in their carry-on luggage novelty-size baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs. Items like box cutters and razor blades are still prohibited.

Knives permitted under the policy must be able to fold up and have 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 small knives

There has been a gradual easing of some of the security measures applied to airline passengers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The new policy conforms U.S. security standards to international standards and allows the TSA to concentrate its energies on more serious safety threats, the agency said when it announced the change this week.

The policy change was based on a recommendation from an internal TSA working group, which decided the items represented no real danger, the agency has said.

TSA has said the presence on flights of gun-carrying pilots traveling as passengers, federal air marshals and airline crew members trained in self-defense provide additional layers of security to protect against misuse of the newly allowed items.

Not all flights, however, have federal air marshals or armed pilots onboard.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants, said Thursday it is coordinating a nationwide legislative and public education campaign to reverse the policy. A petition posted by the flight attendants on the White House's "We the People" website had nearly 12,000 signatures late Friday urging the administration to tell the TSA to keep knives off planes.

"The continued ban on dangerous objects is an integral layer in aviation security and must remain in place," the coalition, which is made up of five unions, said in a statement.

Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, whose 26,000 members include federal air marshals, complained that he and other "stakeholders" weren't consulted by TSA before the "countersafety policy" was announced. He said the association will ask Congress to block the policy change.

The Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations, which represents 22,000 pilots, said it opposes allowing knives of any kind in airliner cabins.

"We believe the (terrorism) threat is still real and the removal of any layer of security will put crewmembers and the flying public unnecessarily in harm's way," Mike Karn, the coalition's president, said.

The new policy has touched off a debate over the mission of TSA and whether the agency is supposed to concentrate exclusively on preventing terrorists from hijacking or blowing up planes, or whether it should also help protect air travelers and flight crews from unruly and sometimes dangerous passengers.

"The charter, the mission of TSA is to stop an airplane from being used as a weapon and to stop catastrophic damage to that aircraft," David Castelveter, a spokesman for the agency, said. Pistole's position is "these small knives, these baseball bats, these sporting items aren't going to contribute to bringing an airplane down," he said.

In an era of reinforced cockpit doors and passengers who have shown a willingness to intervene, the threat from terrorism has been greatly reduced, said Andrew R. Thomas, a University of Akron business professor and author of several books on the airline industry and security.

"Acts of aberrant, abusive and abnormal passenger behavior known as air rage remain the most persistent threat to aviation security," he said.

Adler, representing the air marshals, said aviation security is neither "terrorist-proof nor psycho-proof," and both should be protected against.

TSA's "primary concern, and their only concern, is to protect the cockpit to make sure the planes aren't turned into missiles," he complained. "Traveling Americans are expendable, disposable and otherwise irrelevant to air travel safety."

The new policy has aviation insurers concerned as well.

"We think this move is a bad idea, and isn't in the interests of the traveling public or flight crews in the aviation industry," said Joe Strickland, head of American operations for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, a leading global aviation insurer.

"Safety is the highest priority of every commercial air carrier, flight crew member and air traffic controller," he said. "We don't see how these changes support this priority."

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Freed reported from Minneapolis.

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Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

 

Comments

Kelly

You can bring a knife on the plane but not a bottle of shampoo or a sippy cup of chocolate milk.

Phil Packer

But as we all know, money can't buy knives...

Super Judge

I don't see what the big deal is what could possibly go wrong

Cowboy

The planes brought down on 911 were brought down with box cutters! BOX CUTTERS!!! Pocket knives have longer blades than box cutters!!! What the h3ll is the TSA thinking. The TSA just put flight attendants' lives at risk because all the terrorist has to do now is hold a knife to the flight attendant to get the cockpit door open. That's a no-brainier!

Super Judge

You sound like one of these anti gun, more gun law people. Liberals never cease to amaze me!

BW1's picture
BW1

the 9/11 hijackers succeeded because Americans had been instructed NEVER to challenge a hijacker - to sit down, cooperate, and everything would be fine. That illusion has been shattered, and no one short of a master martial artist who wouldn't need a knife in the first place is ever going to hijack a plane with a blade again. Go on try it - chances are your body will be cold before the plane lands.

Super Judge

so what if they hold a knife to the flyingo waitresses throat. a good pilot will not negotiate with a terrorist.

Cowboy

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Cowboy

Exactly, the pilot will not negotiate and therefore you end up with dead flight attendants and then passengers will be next! You really didn't see that coming? DUH!

Super Judge

Your wrong, and your comments just make you look guilty.

Tool Box

I agree with the cowboy, you are a moron!

Super Judge

Ill meet you and Cowgirl any time any where and we can talk face to face. Ill buy you two liberals lunch since your use to handouts anyways.

2cents

Yea I’m with the flight attendants on this one. I say we can pass the nail clippers in a carry on shaving kit but still need to watch the quantity of fluids, remember the Waco that planned on mixing two chemicals together to blow a hole in the aircraft. They want to bring the thing down to make a political statement and kill people. The shoe inspection is a pain but that happened too, nothing like a nice hole in the side from some C4 footwear. Heck, they don’t serve food on most flights so there is rarely any plastic flatware either. It is all about reason and most people know the list. There are a lot of guys that carry pocket knives like I carry a wallet but all we can do is blame the radical Muslims for all this and follow a reasonable protocol to keep everyone safe.

bored reader

Allow knives on planes but take guns away from Americans. Liberal Politicians are morons.

OMG.LOL.WT_

So the terrorist can only stab you 2.36 inches deep or hit you with a bat 24 inches long. WOW, I feel safer already.
TSA, just another Gov. agency that is worthless.

The Big Dog's back

Good to see you right wingers agree with the UNIONS on this.

2cents

What do unions have to do with logic?

The Big Dog's back

Did you read the story? Let me think ...... NO!

2cents

This is not a left, right or union discussion. It is about safety and security.

The Big Dog's back

Did you read the story? Again, let me think ... NO!

Contango

BD writes:

"Let me think"

"Again, let me think."

You've thought twice in one day Punkin', better pace yourself and save some for tomorrow. :)

swiss cheese kat

lmao

2cents

LOL, double post with time delay BD?

arnmcrmn

bahahahahaha

Centauri

"Knives permitted under the policy must be able to fold up and have 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 small knives" A 2.36" blade can be used to cut the throats or even disembowel the innocent aboard planes. A pen knife was used to behead an Afghan farmer. A box cutter's blade can extend about 3/4" or less. The external jugular vein of a person can be easily cut with a blade that is a fraction of an inch long.

"The policy change was based on a recommendation from an internal TSA working group, which decided the items represented no real danger, the agency has said." I question this recommendation of an internal TSA working group. They sound like a bunch of simpletons or Al-Qaeda has infiltrated the TSA.

OMG.LOL.WT_

I really hate being without my corkscrew.

Centauri

http://www.tsa.gov/sites/default...
"The changes to the Prohibited Items List are effective April 25, 2013"

Contango

How about box cutters? Isn't that what the highjackers used on 9-11?

After passing through security, a trained martial artist can find all kinds of items in shops and restaurants to be used as weapons.

Prisoners are skilled at making shivs ya know?

IMO, the whole TSA system is unnecessarily expensive. Go ask the Israelis how they do it.

2cents

I have an idea! Have stun guns drop down with the oxygen masks; add it to the preflight training. If there is a bad guy onboard with any weapon the captain just pushes a button and the entire aircraft has armed passengers like a swarm of p---ed off hornets.

vicariouslyAlive

... but since 9/11 haven't pilots carried guns in the cockpit? and we've all heard the adage, "don't bring a knife to a gun fight." aren't their air marshals with guns on a flight?

and really, not to completely freak people out here, but metal knives aren't the only kinds of knives out there anymore, which is why the TSA sees the ban a bum topic... check out high density polymer knives, ceramic knives, and carbon fiber knives... all three categories are just as lethal as a metallic knife, and yet won't be picked up by a metal detector... so how much safer are we really with a knife ban? seriously?

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