Flight attendants ask Congress to overturn new TSA rule on knives
WASHINGTON (AP/ABC7) - The head of the Transportation Security Administration says the agency will allow passengers to carry small knives onto planes despite a backlash against the proposal.
TSA Administrator John Pistole told the a House committee on Thursday that he doesn't believe small folding knives would enable a terrorist to take over a plane and that finding and eliminating them is time-consuming.
Pistole says that screeners find 2,000 small knives a day on passengers or in their carry-on bags, with each incident requiring two to three minutes to deal with.
Several lawmakers at the hearing say they don't see much difference between the knives and the box cutters used by 9/11 terrorists. Under the new TSA rules, box cutters like the ones used by the 9/11 terrorists are still banned. But small pocket knives would be allowed to pass through security.
A large group of flight attendants, who call themselves the last line of defense in an attack on a commercial flight, gathered in the shadow of the Capitol Thursday. They called on Congress to pass a bill overturning a new TSA decision about knives on aircraft.
"TSA now believes that's not a problem, that knives won't bring down aircraft, but it will certainly cause the traveling public to become much more endangered," Kevin Creighan says.
Audra West, a flight attendant for 15 years, says beyond the threat of terrorists, there are incidents involving agitated passengers on flights every day.
"The last thing we want to introduce into that scenario is a weapon of any kind," West says.
The TSA says it wants to let knives pass through so security can concentrate on more catastrophic threats like explosives.
"You can do a lot of damage with a pocket knife and I don't feel comfortable with that," Richard Murphy says.
Rasheema Partyka and her husband are flying to the Caribbean from Reagan National today. She thinks allowing knives on any flight is a horrible idea.
"You can bring a small knife, but I can't bring my lotion if it's bigger than a 3.5 ounce bottle? That's a little odd," Partyka says.
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.