New TSA policy on knives, bats sparks backlash

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and even insurance companies are part of a growing backlash to the Transportation Security Administration’s new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives and sports equipment like souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs onto planes.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants, said it is coordinating a nationwide legislative and public education campaign to reverse the policy announced by TSA Administrator John Pistole this week.

A petition posted by the flight attendants on the White House’s “We the People” website had more than 9,300 signatures this morning urging the administration to tell the TSA to keep knives off planes.

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.

The new policy, which goes into effect on April 25, permits folding knives with 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.

Passengers also will be allowed to include in their carry-on luggage novelty-sized baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs.

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.

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