TSA new rule on knives still drawing reaction

The decision to remove some items from the TSA's prohibited list is designed to speed security screening at check-in.
The decision to remove some items from the TSA's prohibited list is designed to speed security screening at check-in. (ERIK S. LESSER / AP)
Posted: March 09, 2013

 Like many Americans, airline passenger and consumer groups are concerned that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration will soon permit the flying public to carry small knives on airplanes.

Consumer Travel Alliance director Charlie Leocha said he favored relaxing TSA's forbidden-items list to allow knives, box cutters, and tools in passengers' carry-on bags, with the goal of speeding up security lines and focusing on the more serious threat: explosives.

But the way the TSA came up with new rules and sprang them on the public this week was "boneheaded" and a public relations disaster that has ignited outrage among airline flight crews and many passengers, he said.

Leocha said he expected the TSA to reverse the decision.

Others see the new rules as a breach of personal safety.

Ellen Saracini of Yardley, whose husband, Victor Saracini, was captain of United Airlines Flight 175, which struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center, said in an e-mail, "I am very concerned about efforts to roll back the safety precautions put in place after the tragedies of Sept. 11 that seemingly are going to put passenger and pilot safety at greater risk."

Saracini said the "stringent rules about what can be brought on by passengers have worked. Why would we relax these important protections?"

"The cockpit can be vulnerable in those moments when the cockpit door is opened and exposed to an attack, as it is on most flights," she said. "Explosives are not what brought down four airplanes on Sept. 11." Knife-wielding terrorists were responsible.

"The TSA has lost its way," said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, a grassroots consumer organization. "Terrorists now can bring on board knives as sharp as the then-permitted box cutters used by the 9/11 hijackers. TSA screeners will have a whole new set of complicated, time-consuming inspections for knives that will further slow up airport security."

Hudson pushed for aviation security after his daughter, Melina, 16, was killed on Pan Am Flight 103, blown up by terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground. She was a high school exchange student coming home for Christmas from London.

"This latest TSA policy should have been thoroughly vetted," Hudson said. "Instead, they sprung this."

TSA receives 10,000 passenger complaints a year, and has no system for resolving them, said Hudson, also executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project, founded by Ralph Nader.

Airline passenger groups have tried since December to meet with TSA Administrator John Pistole to discuss concerns about invasive TSA screening, theft of property from baggage, and rude screeners, he said.


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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