WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration is abandoning a plan to allow passengers to carry small knives, souvenir bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment onto planes in the face of fierce congressional and industry opposition, the head of the agency said Wednesday.
By scuttling the plan to drop the knives and sports equipment from TSA's list of prohibited items, the agency can focus its attention on other priorities, including expanding its Pre-Check program to identify ahead of time travelers who don't pose a security risk, TSA Administrator John Pistole told The Associated Press.
Pistole had unveiled the proposal to loosen the rules for carry-ons in March, saying the knives and other items can't enable terrorists to cause a plane to crash. He said intercepting them takes time that would be better used searching for explosives and other more serious threats. TSA screeners confiscate over 2,000 of the small folding knives a day from passengers.
This Sept. 26, 2006 file photo shows knives of all sizes and types are piled in a box at the State of Georgia Surplus Property Division store in Tucker, Ga. John Pistole, the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says he's dropping a proposal that would have let airline passengers carry small knives, souvenir bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment onto planes.
Skeptical lawmakers, airlines, labor unions and some law enforcement groups complained that the knives and other items in the hands of the wrong passengers could be used to injure or even kill passengers and crew.
Last month 145 House members signed a letter to Pistole asking him to keep in place the current policy prohibiting passengers from including the knives and other items in their carry-on bags. Flight attendant unions organized protests in Washington and at airports across the country. And Airlines for America, which represents major U.S. airlines, as well as top executives from some of the nation's largest airlines, came out against the plan.