WASHINGTON – Box-cutters and razor blades are still out, but the all-Canadian hockey stick will now be allowed into American airline cabins for the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The announcement by the Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday is sure to make Canadian hockey players envious given hockey sticks aren’t allowed in cabins north of the border.
Transport Canada considers hockey sticks “blunt objects” that could be used to cause serious injury, and has no immediate plans to rethink that classification.
The U.S., apparently, shares no such concerns. As of April 25th, American hockey players can haul their sticks aboard under new rules announced Tuesday by John Pistole, head of the TSA, at a travel security conference in New York.
The sticks are in good, if somewhat ominous, company. Under the updated rules, intended to conform with European Union regulations, the TSA will also allow golf clubs, ski poles and small knives — with blades no longer than six centimetres — into airline cabins.
The TSA says that armed pilots, federal air marshals and airline crew members trained in self-defence would provide ample security to protect passengers against anyone who might go on a cross-checking rampage mid-flight.
Flight attendants, however, are aghast, particularly at the notion of knives in the cabin.
“Today’s announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA,” the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, with nearly 90,000 members, said in a statement.
“As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure.”
Stacy Martin, president of Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants union, Transport Workers Union of America Local 556, called the decision “outrageous.”
“This policy was designed to make the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer,” Martin 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.”