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TSA drops plan to allow small knives on planes, bows to pressure from airline execs

Jun 05, 2013 12:37 pm

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The ban was originally going to be lifted in April, but the Boston Marathon bombing delayed its implementation and added fuel to the protests and criticisms of the aviation community.

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Larry Downing   / Reuters

A line of passengers wait to enter the security checkpoint before boarding their aircraft at Reagan National Airport in Washington, April 25, 2013. Larry Downing / Reuters


The top U.S. transportation security official said on Wednesday that he had decided not to permit passengers to carry small knives on airplanes, after receiving a drumbeat of criticism from flight attendants and the public that easing restrictions would increase flight dangers.

Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole, who had proposed to loosen rules put in place in the wake of the September 11 hijackings, told Reuters he had decided to scrap the changes.

“After extensive engagement with the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, law enforcement officials, passenger advocates, and other important stakeholders, TSA will continue to enforce the current prohibited items list,” Pistole said.

Hijackers in the September 11 attacks used small knives to attack crew members and gain control of aircraft. Cockpits on commercial planes have since been required to have locked doors during flights.

In March, the TSA said that effective April 25, it would allow knives with blades that are 2.36 inches or less to be carried onto airplanes. The proposed rules would also have allowed passengers to carry on hockey sticks, golf clubs or billiard cues.

Just days before the rules were due to go into effect, the TSA delayed the change. Now, six weeks later, Pistole announced the decision to scrap the proposed rules altogether.

During a congressional hearing in March, Pisotle had defended the rule changes, saying the TSA was facing budget cuts and needed to prioritize threats. He said the agency finds about 2,000 small pocket knives at checkpoints each day and each takes about two to three minutes to find and confiscate – time that could be used looking for more lethal weapons like non-metallic explosives devices.

Reporting by Deborah Charles. Editing by Philip Barbara.

Copyright (2013) Thomson Reuters.

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