In a move that could make it easier for hikers, campers, sports enthusiasts and crafters to travel, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has announced that airline passengers will be able to start carrying small knives and some other sporting goods onto planes beginning April 25.
The change, which will now allow small, folding blades that are less than 2.36 inches long and 1/2 inch in width, follows more than 10 years of policies put in place after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Box cutters, knives with fixed blades, razor blades and other items will still be prohibited.
A few other sporting goods will also be removed from the TSA's prohibited list, including ski poles, hockey sticks, billiard cues and golf clubs. (Passengers will only be able to bring two clubs on board, though, not the entire set.) Small "novelty" bats will also be allowed, but full-sized baseball, softball or cricket bats will not.
The TSA said this is "part of an overall Risk-Based Security approach, which allows Transportation Security Officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives."
Some passenger-rights groups and flight attendants' organizations voice opposition to the new rules. "While we agree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golf club or hockey stick poses less of a threat to the pilot locked in the cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flight attendants in the passenger cabin," Stacy K. Martin, president of a Southwest Airlines' flight attendants union, said in a prepared statement.
A TSA spokesperson told the Associated Press that the changes bring U.S. travel policies closer into sync with international standards and that an internal TSA working group had determined that the small blades and sporting goods did not pose a high level of risk to flights or passengers.
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