MADISON (WKOW) – Having pocket knives in flight is the current debate among flight attendants.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Tuesday that it would allow pocket knives and some sporting goods in carry-on luggage beginning April 25. And this announcement has some groups fearing for their personal safety.
"As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that the proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure," the Flight Attendants Union Coalition said in a statement.
The union, which represents nearly 90,000 flight attendants at various carriers in the United States, says the flight attendants do not currently receive training on defending others against attacks aboard aircrafts. This is despite repeated requests for basic self-defense training, according to the statement.
The TSA contends the changes to the prohibited items list will allow their workers to focus on identifying higher threat items such as explosives, according to a statement.
There are restrictions within the new regulations, however:
A pocket knife is only allowed if the blade is no longer than 2.36 inches and no wider than 0.5 inch at its widest point. Knives also cannot have a locking or fixed blade or molded grip.
Bats, similarly, cannot exceed 24 inches in length.
The TSA is also allowing pool cues, lacrosse and hockey sticks, and ski poles. Travelers can also bring up to two golf clubs.
Box cutters and razor blades remain on the prohibited items list.
Some other airline workers, however, seem less concerned by the changes.
"I have a lot of trust in the TSA. I think in all these years they've done a nice job. It's been 12 years now that we haven't had any serious incidents. They really go through this stuff very thoroughly, and have a very good understanding of what's safe and what's unsafe in this present climate," said Mark Fischer, a Chicago-based commercial airline pilot.
It's the same with some travelers.
"With the new scanning and the new detection techniques, [pocket knives] are just a minuscule part of traveling," said Frank O'Laughlin, who was picking up travelers at Dane County Regional Airport.
O'Laughlin, who was in the National Guard for 25 years, believes there is a sense of community among passengers: "So I think if anyone were to [threaten another passenger with a pocket knife], it would be squelched pretty quickly," he said.
Some women, however, understand the flight attendant's concern.
"If you are in a situation where you're traveling alone like myself, you don't know the people sitting next to you and what they may be carrying with them and on them," said Min Yung Hyeon, a traveler from Los Angeles.
Hyeon said she would prefer if TSA lifted bans on certain liquid items.
"For women, there are lotions and other things you're discouraged and you have to check in your bags. To me, if I was able to bring those things with me that would be $25 less," Hyeon said.
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