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American Airlines asks TSA to reassess knives on planes policy

@denschaal

Mar 12, 2013 9:56 am

Skift Take

We don’t need pocket knives on airplanes. Kudos to American Airlines in getting a little more aggressive in asking for a reassessment of the proposed policy.

— Dennis Schaal

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UPDATE: US Airways CEO Doug Parker, who is expected to take the helm of the new American Airlines later this year, has part of the chorus as he has penned his own letter on the knives’ policy that is similar in tone and substance to the American Airlines’ letter.

Parker’s letter is dated March 11 and is embedded below.

The original post follows:

An American Airlines executive wrote to TSA administrator John Pistole today asking the TSA to reassess the policy that would permit certain small knives to be brought onto flights starting April 25.

The move comes as the airline trade organization, Airlines for America, has taken a tougher stance on the issue.

Will Ris, American Airlines’ senior vice president of government and regulatory, affairs wrote to Pistole to express the airline’s “concern” over the policy revision, and to decry the lack of collaborative discussions about the security issue.

The American Airlines’ letter follows a missive that Delta CEO Richard Anderson sent to Pistole expressing similar sentiments.

Ris of American Airlines wrote:

“… American feels that those guidelines are often most beneficial when we collectively discuss
and review any proposed alterations that will affect our crewmembers and customers. In this particular
case, we believe input from airlines, as well as the men and women who fly and serve the aircraft, would
have been valuable to help determine the most useful and appropriate revisions.

 

“The safety of our people and our customers is paramount and we will continue to support policies that
keep the airspace safe, and allow customers to move through the screening and security process as
quickly and safely as possible. But we encourage the TSA to reassess its proposed revisions to the
prohibited items list, scheduled to take effect April25, to ensure that any and all changes have been thoroughly reviewed and vetted.”

 

American Airlines and Delta are stepping out from the pack on the issue as several airlines contacted by Skift, including US Airways and JetBlue, replied that this is an industry issue, and they therefore referred inquiries to the airline trade organization, Airlines for America.

“The safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and we actively work with the TSA to build and support risk-based programs, including TSA Precheck and Known Crewmember that improve safety, security and efficiency for customers and crewmembers,” says Jean Medina, a spokesperson for Airline for America.

 

“As partners with the TSA, we believe additional discussion is warranted before items that have been banned for more than 11 years are allowed back on aircraft, and we look forward to working with the TSA to continue building on our strong safety record.”

The Airlines for America comment is sharper in tone than its stance last week when Medina merely told the Associated Press: “We support the TSA’s approach of combining its vast experience with billions of passenger screenings with thorough risk-based assessments.”

Clearly, a lot of airlines are against the new policy and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the TSA reverse course.

Brandy King, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, didn’t refer questions to Airlines for America, but stated: “As far as I know, we have not sent direct communication to the TSA regarding the policy. Of course, the safety of our customers and employees remains our number one priority, and we always want to ensure any changes keep this safety top of mind.”

Here are copies of the American Airlines’ and US Airways’ separate letters to the TSA:

Download (PDF, 154KB)

Download (PDF, 27KB)

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