The new policy is counterintuitive enough to have called for more public-relations finesse from the TSA. But despite our indelible collective memory that the 9/11 hijackers were armed only with box-cutters - one type of small blade that is still banned for obvious symbolic and emotional reasons - keeping airplanes free of every potential weapon was always a quixotic and counterproductive errand.
As several experts and commentators have noted, countless objects, many of them kept aboard most planes, could be used as or easily turned into weapons at least as effective as a pocketknife.
Let's not forget that the government long ago abandoned its post-9/11 efforts to keep the nation's tweezers and nail clippers on the ground. This latest change brings TSA policies still closer to international security standards. Reinforced cockpit doors, air marshals, and passenger and flight crew awareness are likely the most effective protections against another 9/11-style hijacking.
Not that any of that has stopped the TSA from attempting to rid the skies of all manner of theoretically dangerous tchotchkes for years. The Wall Street Journal documented some of the proceeds last year in a visit to a state surplus store selling TSA-confiscated items - from shelves full of souvenir snow globes, marked down to two bucks apiece, to Swiss Army knives sold by the pound.
While inflicting untold misery on the traveling masses, such monumental low-percentage efforts have distracted the TSA from looking for explosives and other true threats to air travelers. The agency has earned much of the reflexive derision it gets, but this move away from pointless security theater is part of the solution.