Airline passengers will be able to carry small knives, golf clubs and souvenir baseball bats onto US planes from next month.
The new policy, announced yesterday by the head of the US Transportation Security Administration, is intended to conform with international standards.
The TSA said it will allow it to focus its energies on more serious safety threats, but the reform angered unions representing airline workers.
David Castelveter of the TSA said the policy change came after an internal working group decided the items represented no real danger.
He said the presence on flights of gun-carrying pilots travelling as passengers, federal air marshals and airline crew members trained in self-defence provide additional layers of security to protect against misuse of the items.
The new policy permits folding knives with blades that are 2.36 inches or less in length and are less than 1/2-inch wide. It is aimed at allowing passengers to carry penknives, corkscrews with small blades and other knives.
Passengers will also be allowed to bring onboard as part of their carry-on luggage novelty-sized baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs. The policy goes into effect on April 25.
Box cutters, razor blades and knives that do not fold or that have moulded grip handles will still be prohibited, the TSA said.
Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents more than 10,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines, called the new policy “dangerous” and “short-sighted,” saying it was designed to make “the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer”.
The union said: “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.”
There has been a gradual easing of some of the security measures applied to airline passengers after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In 2005 the TSA allowed passengers to carry on small scissors, knitting needles, tweezers, nail clippers and up to four books of matches.
The move came as the agency turned its focus toward keeping explosives off planes, because intelligence officials believed that was the greatest threat to commercial aviation.
And in September 2011, the TSA no longer required children 12 years old and under to remove their shoes at airport checkpoints.
Irish Examiner live news app for smartphones lets you quickly access breaking news, sport, business, entertainment and weather.
Irish Examiner ePaper app gives you the entire newspaper delivered to your phone or tablet for as little as 55c a day.
A hepatitis C support group whose funding has been pulled spent almost €13,000 of public funds on a pampering and relaxation weekend despite being instructed not to do so, according to the Health Service Executive.
A seething Oscar Pistorius fired his pistol out of a car's open sun-roof after an argument with a police officer, ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor told a court, the fifth day of his trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
The Ennis Book Club Festival (March 7-9) is a reader's delight. "Other literary festivals are about writing skills and getting published. Our workshops are different. One of our really popular events is called 'Ten Books You Should Read'," says chairperson, Ciana Campbell.
Ryan Tubridy has posed for a new photograph for schoolgirl Sarah Ryan to sketch — after the photographer responsible for the picture on which Sarah's original drawing was based objected to her use of the image.
For most Irish sport lovers, probably the most romantic story of 2013 was the All-Ireland senior hurling championship win by Clare, a precocious and mercurial side guided by a precocious and mercurial management team, led by Davy Fitzgerald.