Unions representing flight attendants at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reacted angrily Tuesday to a policy change that will allow passengers to bring small knives, golf clubs and similar items onto flights.
The Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday that starting April 25, it would permit small knives, golf clubs, ski poles, small baseball bats and other items that have been banned since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings that caused four aircraft to crash.
The revised policy “is a threat to passengers and affront to flight attendants. This policy was designed to make the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer,” said Stacy K. Martin, president of the Transport Workers Union’s Local 556 that represents Southwest flight attendants.
“While we agree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golf club or hockey stick poses less of a threat to the pilot locked in the cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flight attendants in the passenger cabin,” she said.
Similarly, the new policy upset the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s flight attendants.
“The APFA and our colleagues at other flight attendant unions have enjoyed a close working relationship with TSA since its inception. That’s why I’m a little puzzled that such a momentous decision would be made without consulting us,” APFA president Laura Glading said.
“In addition to being industry stakeholders, first responders and Sept. 11th victims, flight attendants are a resource. Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do,” she said.
TSA administrator John Pistole announced the policy change at a Brooklyn aviation security conference. The TSA said the change was part of “TSA’s layered approach to security” and is needed “to align more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.”