Thursday, June 6, 2013

TSA says no knives on airliners after all

The Transportation Security Administration announced on Wednesday that it was reversing its previous decision to allow small knives and other previously prohibited items to be carried on airline flights. In March, the TSA had announced that it would allow airline passengers to carry small folding knives with blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide in carryon baggage. Sporting equipment such as golf clubs, hockey and lacrosse sticks and miniature baseball bats would also have been allowed.

The items have been prohibited from carryon baggage since the September 11 attacks. The TSA focus on knives and small, sharp objects led some to joke that the agency’s acronym stood for “taking scissors away.”

The proposed changes were part of move by the TSA to transition toward risk-based security initiatives which recognize that the majority of airline passengers do not pose a risk, even if they carry a knife or hockey stick. Risk-based security focuses on determining which passengers pose a greater risk through behavior analysis, interviewing, and screening out low-risk passengers through additional information provided voluntarily through programs like Pre-check and Clear.

Even though risk-based screening has a proven history in Israel, the technique has sparked criticism in the United States. According to a USA Today report, a Homeland Security inspector general cited problems with assessing the effectiveness of risk-based screening and the lack of a comprehensive training program. Critics have also alleged that the system amounts to racial profiling.

The proposed changes to the prohibited items list drew opposition from a wide range of groups. 133 members of Congress, primarily Democrats, wrote to TSA administrator John Pistole to oppose the change. Flight attendants, air marshals, and other law enforcement officials also opposed the new rule.

Airline travelers can find a comprehensive list of acceptable items for both carryon and checked baggage on the TSA website. As a general rule, knives and other items that are considered weapons are permitted only in checked baggage. Chemicals and flammable items may not be permitted at all. When in doubt, travelers should also contact their airline.

See the 10 dumbest things people try to get through airport security.

Originally published on Examiner:

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