* New rules go into effect April 25
* Changes to conform with international standards
* Flight attendants say change endangers passengers
(Adds quotes from travelers)
By Deborah Charles
WASHINGTON, March 5 The U.S. Transportation
Security Administration said on Tuesday that travelers can soon
bring small pocket knives on board airplanes for the first time
since the Sept. 11 attacks, sparking outrage from flight
attendants who said the decision would endanger passengers and
The TSA said that effective April 25, it would allow knives
with blades that are 2.36 inches (6 cm) or less in length and
less than 1/2 inch (1-1/4 cm) wide. Other items that will be
allowed on board again as part of a passenger's carry-on luggage
include billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks and lacrosse
Items that had been prohibited like razors, box cutters or
knives with a fixed blade are still not allowed on board.
TSA spokesman David Castelveter said the decision was made
to bring U.S. regulations more in line with International Civil
Aviation Organization standards and would also help provide a
better experience for travelers.
"This is part of an overall Risk-Based Security approach,
which allows Transportation Security officers to better focus
their efforts on finding higher-threat items such as
explosives," he said.
The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents
nearly 90,000 flight attendants from carriers across the
country, called it a "poor and shortsighted decision" by the
"As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation
partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further
endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers
we work so hard to keep safe and secure," the coalition said in
Castelveter said the TSA had implemented a number of safety
measures, including reinforced cockpit doors, allowing some
pilots to be armed and federal air marshals on board airplanes.
He said those measures would help ensure safety of the
passengers and crew.
At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington,
travelers reacted to the change with alarm.
"I would say, what were you thinking? Because it's ludicrous
to think of allowing knives on a plane," said Deborah Debare.
"They are as dangerous as guns."
Another traveler, David Veeder, said that when it came to
knives and blades, even small instruments could pose a danger.
"I'd prefer they had nothing," he said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacked airliner attacks on New
York and Washington, the U.S. government imposed strict rules
for what could be carried on board an aircraft, some of which
differed from what other countries allowed.
(Additional reporting by Pavithra George; Editing by Edith
Honan and David Brunnstrom)