TSA chief: Focus should be on ‘non-metallic threats’

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Pistole pushed earlier to remove small knives and other banned objects like golf clubs and plastic toy baseball bats from the TSA’s list of items that airline passengers are prohibited from carrying onto flights.

The push to change the TSA’s rules was eventually dropped after it faced strong push back from lawmakers, who pointed out that it would have resulted in knives being allowed onto airplanes for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Pistole did not mention the attempt to allow knives onto airplanes during his interview, but he touted the agency’s other “risk-based” initiatives. 

“We are moving away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ outlook on screening airline passengers to a risk-based security concept,” the TSA chief said.  “That began with age-based screening modifications for passengers 12 and younger and 75 and older who do not have to remove their belt, shoes or a light jacket.”

Pistole also touted the TSA’s “Pre-Check” known traveler program, which allows passengers to volunteer information to the agency in exchange for the possibility of receiving expedited screening.

“The TSA PreCheck program in use at Tampa International Airport enables eligible participants to be screened in dedicated lanes and not remove laptops or compliant liquids from carry-ons,” he said. “The TSA is greatly expanding travelers eligible for PreCheck screening.”