TSA Delays New Knives-on-Planes Policy (UPDATE)

UPDATE June 5, 2013 – The TSA has decided to leave the ban in place. Too much opposition to any knives on planes.

Starting Thursday (April 25), the TSA was to have dropped its ban on small knives on planes – not switchblades or butcher knives, but what are commonly referred to as pocket or pen knives. The test for such knives: no lock-in-place blades and blades no longer than about 2-and-a-half inches. Now the security agency says, this plan is on hold.

Hear air travel expert Rick Seaney’s story about a family member who travel with a knife:

Who took down a plane bomber? The passengers.

Opposition to Knives on Planes

What happened? Increasingly vocal opposition from flight attendants and the TSA’s own air marshals. And then came the Boston bombing.

USA Today quotes a representative of a flight attendant union saying, “Now is not the time to weaken transportation security.” The spokesperson seemed to suggest that small knives are not dissimilar to the box cutters used by terrorists to take over planes during 9/ll.

Is security better since 9/11?

Some Potential Weapons are Allowed

Box cutters are still prohibited in carry-on bags (though they are allowed in checked-baggage) but some may be surprised to learn how many items that could be used as weapons are currently allowed to pass through security and onto planes.

Per the TSA, travelers are permitted to pack the following in carry-on bags:

  • Scissors with metal pointed tips (if the blades are less than 4 inches long)
  • Screw drivers, 7 inches long or less
  • Knitting needles

TSA Wants Focus on Explosives

Whether a small knife is potentially more dangerous than a 7-inch long screwdriver is up for debate but knife opponents seem to be saying, why add to the potential for trouble? The TSA’s argument is that the real danger to planes will come from explosives and that’s what they want to focus on.

Meanwhile, the TSA now says it will consider comment on its knife policy from “aviation-related interests, passenger advocates, and law enforcement experts.” No word yet on when a final decision on the knife policy will be made, so passengers who wish to travel with these items must pack them in checked-bags – at least for now.


Published: April 23, 2013