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TSA to relax carry-on regulations effective April 25

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By USA Today
Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 6:54 p.m.
 

The Transportation Security Administration will allow travelers to bring small knives, golf clubs and hockey sticks into airline cabins for the first time since 2001, TSA chief John Pistole announced on Tuesday.

The change, intended to conform with international rules, will take effect April 25. The announcement marks the first big loosening of restrictions for carry-on items since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Pistole stressed the importance of risk-based screening, to focus on the biggest threats to aircraft rather than holding everyone to the same security standard.

“The focus is on what could present catastrophic damage to the aircraft,” said TSA spokesman David Castelveter.

Security experts such as Kip Hawley, who headed TSA under former president George W. Bush, have long advocated a less detailed screening of passengers, because the hardening of cockpit doors would prevent a terrorist from gaining control of a plane as hijackers did on 9/11.

Razor blades and box cutters, such as those the hijackers used, would still be prohibited.

But the items that will be allowed will more closely match standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, according to the TSA. These will now be allowed:

• Knives without a molded grip and with blades that don't lock and are less than 6 centimeters or 2.36 inches.

• Novelty-size and toy bats less than 24 inches long and weighing less than 24 ounces.

• Billiard cues, ski poles, hockey and lacrosse sticks, and two golf clubs as part of carry-on baggage.

The expansion of what is allowed on the plane follows earlier decisions to allow cigarette lighters and fingernail clippers. But the bulk of restricted items in carry-on luggage, such as liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, remains unchanged. The prohibited items are listed at www.TSA.gov.

But flight attendants blasted the change in policy for endangering passengers and crew members outside the cockpit.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants at carriers nationwide, blasted the decision.

“Today's announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA,” the group said. “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.”

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