WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- The head of Delta Airlines says a U.S. rule change allowing passengers to carry small knives on airliners "will add risk to airline personnel and passengers."
The Transportation Security Administration announced the change this week -- set to take effect April 25 -- allowing passengers to carry certain small knives onboard. The TSA said the change was intended to align U.S. rules "more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards" and reduce the amount of time required for passengers to go through screening.
Passengers will be permitted to carry "knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width" -- as well as "novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs" as part of their carry-on baggage.
"These items have been banned for more than 11 years and will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers," Delta's Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said in a letter to the TSA, CNN reported Saturday.
Association of Flight Attendants President Veda Shook said the rule change "makes no sense."
"How big is this knife? Is it long enough? Is it wide enough? Does it lock? Does it not lock? That is going to create confusion at the checkpoint, We're all better off and were all safer without weapons on board the aircraft," Shook said.
The 90,000-members strong Flight Attendants Union Coalition is organizing an effort to reverse the decision, CNN reported.
Former TSA administrator Kip Hawley said the rule change would allow checkpoint security to focus on more dangerous items, such as bombs.
The TSA said existing security measures -- including hardened cockpit doors, armed federal air marshals, armed pilots and crew members trained in self-defense -- will help preserve safety on airliners.
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