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Sharp criticism for new TSA regulations

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:56:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 06 2013 10:15:00 AM CST

Sharp criticism for new TSA regulations

HANOVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -

Small pocket knives, hockey sticks, and toy bats will soon be off the "no fly list." 

The Transportation Safety Administration chief made the announcement Tuesday, saying screeners have bigger threats to deal with.  Some local passengers and flight attendants beg to differ.

"I'm not sure about that," said Simon Whitnell, a passenger from Blandon, Berks Co.,, arriving at Lehigh Valley International Airport.

The government has banned all knives from flights since September 11th.  Starting April 25th, small pocket knives will be now be allowed.  There will be limits, though.  Knives must less less than two-point-three inches long and half an inch wide.  Also, the blade cannot lock.

"It depends how big the pocket knife is," said Whitnell.  "I have one on my key chain that's maybe an inch long, and I always have to remember to take it off before I fly."

The move is just the latest easing of travel rules since 9/11.  In 2005, the government began allowing small scissors and knitting needles.  In 2011, children under 12 were exempted from having to take their shoes off before boarding.

A TSA working group recommended Tuesday's changes, saying small pocket knives do not pose a significant security risk.  The move puts American rules in line with most international ones.

"I think they should know their business," said passenger Gene Ulshafer of Andreas, Schuylkill Co.  "If they allow it, I'm sure they researched it thoroughly."

Two flight attendants' unions blasted the move, calling it "dangerous" and "shortsighted."

In a statement, TWU Local 556 said, "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."

Some passengers at LVIA agreed.

"I think you can still do a lot of damage with something that small," said Andre Raso of Easton.   "They won't allow liquids on board, why would they allow something somebody could stab you with?"

Also now allowed as carry-ons on planes?  Up to two golf clubs, hockey and lacrosse sticks, billiards cues, ski poles, and toy or novelty-sized bats.

"With all that's happened in the past 12 years, I think our antennae are a little more keyed for any kind of problems that can happen," said passenger Karen Ulshafer.

Box cutters like those used in the 2001 terrorist attacks will still be banned.

The relaxed rules go into effect just days after the TSA said it may enact a hiring freeze or furlough security workers because of the federal budget sequester.