For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal airport screeners will allow passengers to carry onto a plane small knives, as well as golf clubs, hockey sticks and pool cues, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.
The policy change, which will take effect April 25, was criticized by flight attendants, who say the move will create an unnecessary risk and further crowd the limited space in overhead bins.
"While we agree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golf club or hockey stick poses less of a threat to the pilot locked in the cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flight attendants in the passenger cabin," said Stacy Martin, president of Southwest Airlines' flight attendants union, TWU Local 556.
In a statement, the TSA said the change will help align the list of prohibited items on U.S. flights with those of international carriers and cut the time passengers spend going through security screening.
"This change allows TSA to focus on the threats that can cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft," the agency said.
The change will remove from the TSA list of prohibited items small knives — less than 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters long — as well as sporting equipment, including golf clubs, billiard cues, ski poles and hockey and lacrosse sticks.
The TSA pointed out that other security measures are in place to protect U.S.-based planes, including hardened cockpit doors, armed federal air marshals, armed pilots and crew members with self-defense training.
The policy change was based on a recommendation from an internal TSA working group, which decided the items represented no real danger, said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the agency.