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Airlines, Flight Crews Want Knives On Planes Decision Overturned

11:53 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
  • TSA Allowing Pocket Knives on planes. USA Today
  • TSA Allowing Pocket Knives on planes. USA Today
    
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(CBS News)-- There's a big push to overturn the decision that allows small knives on commercial flights. The policy change is slated to begin next month. But, now, airlines and flight attendants are joining with lawmakers to pressure the Transportation Security Administration, hoping to pass a "No Knives Act" in Congress.

After a late meeting Wednesday with flight attendants, the head of the TSA told CBS News the agency is not budging.

The TSA policy change -- which takes effect April 25 -- allows knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches and no wider than a half-inch as well as sports equipment like golf clubs, hockey sticks, pool cues and small novelty bats.

Laura Glading has been a flight attendant for 34 years and heads up the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. She said allowing small knives back on planes after an 11-year ban means more danger. "The flight attendants are the last line of defense," Glading said, "and so you have put us at tremendous risk."

The head of the TSA said small knives are not a serious risk to taking a plane down because of reinforced cockpit doors and enhanced security. And allowing the knives lets the TSA focus on greater threats, according to TSA administrator John Pistole, which are "primarily non-metallic, explosive devices, the bombs that can bring down an aircraft."

The TSA also argues the change will speed up security lines.

The ban on many items came after the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters -- which are still banned -- to bring down four planes. Over time, some of the rules have been relaxed.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., now wants to pass a law to keep knives off. He asked, "Why would we run the risk of repeating the history of what happened with something just this size, which is all they needed?"

Pistole spoke with CBS News late Wednesday after meeting with flight attendants. Asked by CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson if there's any chance the TSA will change its mind, Pistole said, "No, this is a risk-based decision, along with all the other things we're doing to change to one-size-fits-all paradigm."

Pistole will be answering questions on Capitol Hill Thursday. Markey said his bill -- the No Knives Act -- has bipartisan support. The question is whether they can get it passed before the April 25 policy change.

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