TSA to Allow Knives & Golf Clubs on Planes (But Liquids Are Still Forbidden)

A sign greets travelers in front of a Transportation Security Administration officer at a security checkpoint at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Linthicum, Md. , Friday March, 1, 2013. (Photo: AP)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Tuesday that it will allow pocketknives, golf clubs, hockey sticks and plastic Wiffle Ball-style bats on planes beginning next month for the first time since 2001.

TSA chief John Pistole made the announcement while speaking at a security conference in New York, and some are already outraged.

But first, Bloomberg News has more information on the change:

Overseas passengers will no longer have to check the qualifying knives as they pass through the U.S. The agency will still prohibit some knives, including those with locking blades or molded handles, Pistole said. Box cutters, like those used by the Sept. 11 terrorists, and razor blades will still be banned.

The agency will relax its prohibited-item list in other ways, Pistole said. Passengers will be allowed to carry on sticks used to play lacrosse, billiards and hockey, ski poles and as many as two golf clubs, he said.

The agency is also carving out two exceptions to its ban on most baseball and softball bats. It will allow souvenir, novelty baseball bats less than 24 inches long and will permit lightweight plastic bats even if they’re more than 2 feet long (61 centimeters).

The sporting goods have been deemed acceptable based on recommendations from a TSA working group that’s trying to weed out commonly confiscated items that don’t present a security threat, agency spokesman David Castelveter said.

“These are popular items we see regularly,” Castelveter said. “They don’t present a risk to transportation security.” [Emphasis added]

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, in particular, is disturbed by the TSA’s announcement.  While the TSA argues that cockpit doors have been reinforced since 9/11, the union notes that the plane’s passengers and crew are still vulnerable.

“Today’s announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA,” the group said in a statement. “As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure.”

But Pistole maintains that with an improvement in risk-based screening– focusing on those more likely to be security threats, rather than putting everyone through the same security checks– passengers will remain just as safe as before.