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Flight attendants, air marshals irked by TSA knife-policy change

March 07, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The Transportation and Security Administration provides charts that show which knives will be accepted on flights starting April 25.
The Transportation and Security Administration provides charts that… (TSA )

A number of flight attendants and air marshals want the Transportation and Security Administration to reconsider its decision to allow passengers to carry small knives aboard planes starting next month.

The changes in the carry-on security standards, announced Tuesday, have prompted action from unions and associations representing air marshals and flight attendants who worry about their safety in the post-9/11 world.

George Randall, head of the air marshal unit of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Assn., told CNN: "It's as if we didn't learn anything from 9/11. Flight attendants are going to be sitting ducks."

The Assn. of Flight Attendants and the Flight Attendants Union Coalition have circulated a petition on the White House's We the People Web page aimed at stopping the changes. So far the posting shows that more than 5,400 people have signed online.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said via email that the changes shouldn't have come as a surprise. "TSA consulted with stakeholders prior to announcing these changes and [they] are confident that TSA is taking the necessary steps to not only prevent catastrophic damage to the aircraft, but to also to ensure the safety of passengers and crew."

TSA chief John Pistole made the announcement that small pocket knives with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 inches and less than a half-inch thick would permitted on planes, saying the news policy would begin on April 25.

Other changes allow ski poles, hockey and lacrosse sticks, pool cues, golf clubs and novelty and toy bats.

The TSA blog shows a complete list of changes in prohibited items and offers comparative charts to indicate which small knives are allowed and which aren't.

Ian Funderburg of Charlotte, N.C., who says he's a flight attendant, posted a petition on Change.org that asks President Obama and Congress to stop the restrictions from being lifted.

"Knives DO NOT belong on planes!" Funderburg wrote in his post. "Tell the TSA: Protect your fellow Americans, do the right thing and get rid of this policy."

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com

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