Flight attendant union questions TSA allowing knives on planes

“The APFA and our colleagues at other flight attendant unions have enjoyed a close working relationship with TSA since its inception,” APFA President Laura Glading said in a statement. “That’s why I’m a little puzzled that such a momentous decision would be made without consulting us. In addition to being industry stakeholders, first responders, and September 11th victims, flight attendants are a resource. Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do.”

TSA said allowing small knives on planes "aligns [the agency] with international standards and our European counterparts."

"TSA is taking small knives, novelty-sized bats and certain sporting equipment off of the Prohibited Items List starting April 25, which will allow Transportation Security Officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives and/or improvised explosive device (IED) components," the agency said in a statement about the announcement.

The agency stressed that relaxing its prohibition on allowing knives on planes would not make flying less safe.

"Small knives, novelty-sized bats and certain sporting equipment are unlikely to result in catastrophic destruction of an aircraft," TSA said. "In the context of a layered approach to security, hardened cockpit doors further reduce the likelihood of breaching the cockpit. Federal Flight Deck Officers, crewmembers with self-defense training and Federal Air Marshals will help to ensure the safety of all crewmembers and passengers."

The APFA said it was also concerned about the impact of allowing large items like golf clubs to be carried onto planes because of storage limitations.

“Obviously, the prospect of pocket knives in the cabin is anathema [to passenger safety] but there are other problems as well,” APFA Safety and Security Coordinator Kelly Skyles said. “There’s less space than ever in overhead bins and on some particular aircraft safely storing these large items will be impossible. Add to that the cramped confines of an airplane cabin, and you have the potential for passengers getting hit with these items during boarding and deplaning. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

The union added that the TSA would be impacted by sequestration budget cuts as it is implementing changes to its rules.

“The timing couldn’t be worse, frankly,” APFA legislative representative Julie Frederick said in a statement. “We’re still not sure what sequestration means for airport TSA or the Federal Air Marshal Service. We must assume that enforcement of this new policy will fall squarely on the shoulders of flight attendants. We look forward to addressing these concerns with the administration as soon as possible.”