“This policy was designed to make the lives of TSA staffeasier, but not make flights safer,” Stacy Martin, president ofthe Transportation Workers Union, said in a statement. “While weagree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golfclub or hockey stick poses less of a threat to the pilot locked inthe cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flightattendants in the passenger cabin.”The policy changes, which were made to conform to internationalrules and shorten the amount of time checkpoint officials spendconfiscating items, take effect April 25, TSA Administrator JohnPistole announced Wednesday. Knives with retractable blades shorterthan 2.36 inches (6 cm) will be permitted in carry-on baggage.Sports equipment like lacrosse sticks, ski poles and golf clubswill also be allowed in the passenger cabin.“The idea that we have to look for, to find and then somehowresolve whatever that prohibited item is — that takes time andeffort,” Pistole said at an aviation security conference in NewYork. “That may detract us from that item that could lead to acatastrophic failure on an aircraft.”But labor unions representing flight attendants are outraged atthe new policy and claim that the changes will simply put morepeople in danger.“We believe that these proposed changes will further endangerthe lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work sohard to keep safe and secure,” the Flight Attendants UnionCoalition said in a statement, describing the TSA decision as“poor and shortsighted”.The decision marks the largest loosening of TSA travelrestrictions since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.Passengers interviewed by AP largely agreed with the new policy,claiming that almost anything – including a sharpened credit card –could be turned into a weapon anyway.“There are a lot of things you can use on an airplane if youare intent on hurting someone,” John L. Sullivan, an aviationsecurity consultant, told AP. “Security is never 100percent.”But TSA told USA Today that security agents will be able tospend more of their time searching for bomb threats, which are moreserious, rather than confiscating small pocket knives thatpassengers too often try to take with them.“This is part of an overall risk-based security approach,which allows transportation security officers to better focus theirefforts on finding higher-threat items such as explosives,” theagency said.But to flight attendants who lack the same protections as an airpilot, the new policy has instilled concerns about their safety ina cabin where passengers may soon carry knives in theirpockets.
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