Planes and pocketknives

a multi-tool knife with a flower designThe TSA recently announced they would be allowing pocketknives through airport security and on to planes starting in April. A lot of people are very concerned about the safety repercussions, including the flight attendant unions and some members of Congress. I have tried to stay away from the pocketknife controversy because, honestly, it’s been covered pretty adequately everywhere. But in case you aren’t aware, here are the details (from the TSA blog, emphasis mine):

Starting April 25, TSA will relax restrictions on certain items previously prohibited as part of its ever evolving efforts to focus on items that pose the highest threat. Relaxed restrictions will apply to knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs as part of their carry-on baggage.

The relaxing of the rules around knives has predictably drawn the most questions and criticism. I totally get why people get freaked out thinking about knives on a plane. It sounds so dangerous!! However, when you look at the knives in question, they are smaller than the sewing scissors that have been allowed on planes for years. As I have personally carried these tiny scissors (similar to these) on many trips (probably over one hundred) during the last few years, it’s hard for me to get too excited about pocket knives.

Now, I said earlier that I have purposely stayed out of the discussion. Obviously that’s changed today! The reason is a New York Times article from Monday. The author wrote about the TSA changes last week, and not surprisingly received a ton of comments from readers. What was surprising was that a large portion of the comments in support of the relaxed regulations were from women business travelers. As I happen to be a woman business traveler who finds the relaxed regulations not that big of a deal, I found this very interesting. Because other groups were so opposed to changing the rules, I kind of assumed I was a minority. Now that I know that’s not the case, I want to know what others in my situation think as well. (Pictured: a lovely Swiss Army knife. I don’t carry one, but if I did this one would top the list!)

So, Readers, what is your take on the TSA allowing small knives through security and onto planes? Does it seem dangerous, or no big deal? In your comment, if you’re comfortable with it please identify your gender. Just because I’m curious 🙂

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  1. I think the restrictions are still too tight. Should allow knives up to 3″ and not have the ban on locking or “contour-handle” knives. I really don’t remember safety issues pre-9/11, and there are already more than enough things on a plane that could be effective weapons and that will never be banned. Things like metal parts to the seats.

  2. Those opposed really don’t know how to assess risk. The risk posed by these items is small. If you really want to be safe then perform background checks on the flyers.

  3. Frankly, and I know my views wont be popular, I think all luggage should go in the hold. Passengers should only be allowed to carry on the equivalent of a handbag and stop whining about bag check fees. If you cant afford them, don’t fly. I fly all the time, for business, and have never yet been late to a meeting because I had to stop off at baggage claim. This would speed everything up, eliminate the horror of being hit in the head by backpacks and wheelies and make the entire flying experience safer and more comfortable. A lot of potentially dangerous items would then be out of circulation in the hold and people would be forced to be more mindful about their packing instead of galumphing onto the plane with their entire lives in 5 bags, then taking over other people’s overhead space. I admit this does not necessarily address the issue of pocket knives, but again, I don’t mind the ban-I would put mine in my hold luggage and not worry about not having access to it for a few hours. So what? I am always changing handbags so I have to remember to transfer my stuff. This is no different. Sure-you may need a pocketknife to do odd jobs during travel but do you really need it on the plane? I did not start to feel this way until people got into the habit of carrying on so much stuff-it is awful-and until I started flying a plane. Small planes have limited hold space and you have to calculate weight & balance when you take a passenger and be VERY mindful about carrying extra stuff because fuel is an issue. Jets obviously have big cargo holds so why not use them? Flying might then recover a degree of the graciousness that it had in the 60s and 70s. Rant over…..

  4. I find this attitude disturbing. It is basically “I like how I travel so I’m going to force it on everyone else.”
    I traveled with just a carry-on long before baggage fees. I did it because of time and convenience. I didn’t want to spend 1/2 an hour standing in line to check my bags. I didn’t want to spend an hour waiting for my bags. And I was tired of lost bags. As a woman, I travel with an under-stuffed soft bag that stores easily. This almost always is under 7 kg (15 lb)
    I’m not your problem so please don’t force your travel methods on me.

  5. Wait! Is this the pocket knife thread?

    My 2 cents on the pocket knife is that I carry that exact little Swiss army knife on my key chain. I use it all the time (and not for disarming TSA agents or plane hijacking). I’d be delighted to be allowed to leave it on my key chain whilst flying.

  6. I’m with JP – I used to carry a small swiss army knife on my keychain – you never know when it’ll come in handy! I took it off when the new rules came out in 2001, and I’m looking forward to putting it back on my keychain – I’m female.

  7. Are the people afraid of this rule being relaxed also afraid of the passengers up front who get real silverware with their meals and are given complimentary beverages?

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