The TSA is revising carry-on restrictions at the end of April with the most notable change that small knives will be permitted on board again. The rules change will align the US with European Union policies, which includes allowing pocket knives with a blade up to 6cm through the checkpoints. There are some other items permitted, too, including lacrosse sticks and golf clubs, but it is the knives bit which has raised the most attention with the announcement.
TSA Administrator John Pistole pretty much conceded that the small knives are not a threat to planes. In a presentation to the 22nd AVSEC World conference in New York Pistole stated that the last three months of 2012 saw an average of 47 such knives seized daily at LAX alone. He also suggested that screening for them was a waste of time based on the risk they pose, "Frankly, I don’t want TSA agents to be delayed by these."
It is almost hard to believe that the TSA is managing to change their tune on certain items, acknowledging hat the risks they’ve previously been up in arms about might not be so real. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but I’m surprised they’re willing to stand up and admit that things have gone a bit too far to the "anything in the name of security" direction and come back towards reality a bit. Also perhaps of note is that Pistole suggested the reason box-cutters were not included in the revised rule is that there is "just too much emotion involved with those." Probably not a huge deal either way if they are permitted or not.
It is not at all hard to believe that some flight attendants are upset about the change, suggesting that the move will endanger them and other passengers. The President of Southwest‘s FA union is asking that the change be rescinded immediately, according to Fox News. Of course, I don’t recall tales of knife fights amongst passengers in the past, back when even larger knives were permitted, but that’s a whole different story.
At the same conference European Commission director for security and policy coordination Marjeta Jager stated that they want to start rolling back the liquids ban much more aggressively. They still expect to have screening of one sort or another on the liquids, but Jager expects to allow them through checkpoints, starting with permitting duty free goods on connections. "The restriction on liquids must go. It was a measure we took in 2006 as a temporary solution and it has taken too long to apply technologies to lift this restriction."
The TSA remains convinced that non-metallic explosives are the true threat to aviation security and they want that to be the focus of their screening efforts. That means the pat-downs and body scanners aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. As for snow globes, they seem to still be on the prohibited list so I guess not everything is rational. At least not yet.