TSA Administrator John Pistole finally appeared on Capitol Hill to defend his new policy allowing knives and other items on planes effective April 25, 2013. Needless to say, it was met with the same criticism he has already received from airlines, pilots, flight attendants, and Federal Air Marshals.
I won’t argue with Administrator Pistole that the “small knife” exception does not pose a threat to bring down an aircraft. I will even agree that these small knives may take valuable time from the screening process. After all, we have yet to see any aircraft threatened – much less brought down – by a knitting needle, which is not only allowed onboard but certainly much longer and arguably a potentially greater threat than these small blades.
What is a total FAIL is the TSA claim that this will speed up security lines. This new knife policy will slow the lines to a crawl as more and more passengers attempt to bring these small blades onboard. It is inevitable that some of them will indeed meet TSA’s prohibited lockable definition. Do we really have to wait in security lines while TSA checks each of these carry-on knives to see if they are?
Then there is the size thing. Seriously, the blade can’t be more than 2.36 inches? Of course each blade will have to be measured to make sure it fits the new mold. I can just hear the arguments now when a passenger believes the knife complies with policy but TSA argues back that the blade is 2.4”. Yeah, this will really speed up the line, TSA.
And while I’m thumping my chest, what’s up with this new hockey stick policy? Baseball bats are not permitted but hockey sticks are? Is there really that much of a demand from passengers that they be allowed to carry their oversized hockey sticks onboard?
Okay, maybe you are not into hockey. Better news, TSA has your sport covered. You will also be allowed to carry on ski poles, lacrosse sticks, billiard cues, and two golf clubs. Anyone else think it was already difficult enough to find overhead compartment space before this new policy?
Pistole defends his position that this change only brings the U.S. into line with international standards. I am certainly not the world’s most global traveler but I don’t recall anywhere that I can walk onboard with a knife, much less gahungous oversized sports equipment. Indeed, I had a U.S. permissible-size pair of scissors removed in Sydney as well as a very tiny foldable pair confiscated by security in Hong Kong or China. Is it possible the TSA leader is referring to the international standards established in Somalia?
If TSA really wanted to join the rest of the planet’s security standards, they could begin with their own shoe policy. As far as I know, the USA is the only country that requires all passengers to remove their shoes. Yes, there are instances where shoe removal may be required elsewhere, mostly because of metal buckles or heels, but this is selective. Unlike the new knife policy, this really would speed up the security lines.
These new rules will be in effect for those flying after April 24th. Great, can’t wait until the aircraft is airborne and after a bit of raucous drinking and a my-team-is-better-than-yours heated argument, passengers reach into the overheads for their sports weapons. Of course, the passengers with the 2.36” knives will be ahead of the game by grabbing theirs first. Oh, but don’t forget to watch out for granny and those knitting needles.
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