As if flying was not already stressful, annoying and complicated enough, the Transportation Security Administration’s new regulations set to take effect on April 25 add a whole new layer of worry. People have been baffled since the TSA announced last week that they will begin allowing small knives onto airplanes.
The types of small knives that will be permitted must be 2.36 inches or shorter, less than a 1/2 inch wide, cannot have a fixed blade or lock into place. The new rules will also permit golf clubs, bats, ski poles and other sports sticks to be carry-on luggage.
The TSA says the new rules are meant to allow agents to look more carefully for bomb materials by focusing less on smaller items such as knives and also to bring the United States up to international standards of airline safety.
Many are voicing their concern that the new rules are dangerous. The Flight Attendants Union Coalition issued a statement saying that they will not stop to fight the policy, which is “against the best interest of the security of crew and passengers.”
Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson said, “These items have been banned for more than 11 years and will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers.”
Since 9/11, those who have flown in the United States know how thorough and often invasive TSA regulations are from unconstitutional full body scanners to intrusive pat downs. As much a hassle these measures are, travelers have grown somewhat used to having their rights and bodies violated in order to feel a better sense of security while flying. For them to decide that allowing knives is the appropriate next step towards giving more freedoms on planes is ludicrous.
These new rules will also make flying more inconvenient and annoying. Imagine the new hassles of dealing with the guy who takes 20 minutes to fit his golf clubs in the overhead storage.
Some issues, though, are more serious. According to CNN, “Security expert Rafi Ron says the TSA should focus on risky people rather than risky objects.” Ron said that threat is measured by how risky a person is, not the object they have. This sounds like a good excuse for the TSA to use even more concentrated and harsh profiling and screening tactics, particularly of the racial kind.
The benefit of only possibly giving the TSA a greater ability to search for other potentially hazardous materials is far outweighed by the harm of bringing possible danger and further discomfort to flyers. So far it looks like there is no way for these new rules to be a good idea.