Association of Professional Flight Attendants reacts to TSA lifting of pocketknife ban

Association of Professional Flight Attendants reacts to TSA lifting of pocketknife ban

POSTED: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 9:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 9:04pm

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, representing over 16,000 frontline employees and first-responders at American Airlines, are asking TSA Administrator John Pistole to re-evaluate a policy he announced today.

This morning, at an aviation security conference in Brooklyn, Mr. Pistole stated that the agency will permit certain knives and other items. The change, which is set to take place on April 25, will bring the US into conformance with international rules.

“The APFA and our colleagues at other Flight Attendant unions have enjoyed a close working relationship with TSA since its inception,” said APFA President Laura Glading. “That’s why I’m a little puzzled that such a momentous decision would be made without consulting us. In addition to being industry stakeholders, first responders, and September 11th victims, Flight Attendants are a resource. Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do.”

While the APFA welcomes the periodic review of items banned from being carried on the airplane, it categorically rejects a proposal to allow knives of any kind in the cabin. Additionally, today’s announcement includes relaxing restrictions of such large items as hockey sticks, golf clubs, and ski poles, a policy which could lead to a more stressful and potentially dangerous environment for air travelers and employees.

“Passenger safety is our absolute top priority.” said APFA Safety and Security Coordinator Kelly Skyles. “Obviously, the prospect of pocket knives in the cabin is anathema but there are other problems as well. There’s less space than ever in overhead bins and on some particular aircraft safely storing these large items will be impossible. Add to that the cramped confines of an airplane cabin, and you have the potential for passengers getting hit with these items during boarding and deplaning. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

APFA plans to address these concerns with TSA Administrator John Pistole and, if necessary, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as soon as possible. “The timing couldn’t be worse, frankly,” said APFA Legislative Representative Julie Frederick. “We’re still not sure what sequestration means for airport TSA or the Federal Air Marshal Service. We must assume that enforcement of this new policy will fall squarely on the shoulders of Flight Attendants. We look forward to addressing these concerns with the Administration as soon as possible.”

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