For the first time since 9/11, the TSA will allow retractable knives (with blades shorter then 2.4 inches and narrower than .5 inches at the widest point) as well as a certain bats and sporting sticks in carry-on bags starting April 25, according to Bloomberg.
The change was announced by TSA Administrator John Pistole at the 22nd AVSEC World conference in New York, Air Transport World reports, in order to comply with European Union rules.
Passengers will be allowed to carry on various sticks used in sports such as lacrosse, billiards and hockey, plus ski poles and up to two golf cubs. Bats will have to be less than 24 ounces in weight and 24 inches inlength in order to make it on board, ATW.com reports.
Pistole cited the holdup these types of items cause at security checkpoints as one of the reasons for the change. "Frankly, I don’t want TSA agents to be delayed by these,” Pistole was quoted as saying. Of the decision, the TSA said in a statement, "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," NBC New York reports.
As a result, passengers coming into the U.S. from overseas will no longer have to check these types of items. Box cutters, razor blades and any knife with locking blades or molded handles are still banned. "There is just too much emotion involved with those,” Pistole said, as box cutters were used in the attacks on September 11.
In response, the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents nearly 90,000 flight attendants around the country, said in a statement:
Today's announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA. 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.
The announcement comes as the sequester has already begun to affect air traffic in this country. The TSA issued a statement Monday saying that "travelers can expect to see lines and wait times increase as reductions to overtime and the inability to backfill positions for attrition begin to occur this month...while wait times can vary on a number of factors, due to the reductions mandated by sequestration, TSA will put in place a hiring freeze, which will result in up to an additional 1,000 TSO vacancies by Memorial Day Weekend and up to 2,600 vacancies by the end of the fiscal year."