Starting April 25, passengers will be allowed to take small pocketknives, golf clubs, hockey sticks and souvenir or plastic baseball bats through security and on to airplanes for the first time since the terrorist attacks on September 11.
The rule changes, announced by Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole at a conference on Tuesday, will conform to international rules already in place.
The TSA will still prohibit some knives that include locking blades and box cutters and razor blades will still be banned, Pistole said at the conference, according to Bloomberg News.
Flight attendant unions swiftly decried the action, saying it could lead to a more dangerous environment for passengers and airline employees.
"This policy was designed to make the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer," said Stacy Margin, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents flight attendants at Southwest Airlines. "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."Association of Professional Flight Attendants president Laura Glading said she was puzzled on how the TSA decided to change the rules without consulting flight attendant unions.
"In addition to being industry stakeholders, first responders, and September 11 victims, Flight Attendants are a resource," said Glading, whose union represents American Airlines' flight attendants. "Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do.”