This week the TSA announced a policy change that would allow travelers to carry small pocket knives on planes, and that change has been greeted by outrage in the media. The TSA is making the change to allow screeners to focus more on more serious threats, like explosives. I’m quite surprised to see the reaction by the media – interviews seem to be clearly stacked with people who disagree with the change, quoting people says that they will not feel safe on planes any longer. Industry organizations, like the flight attendants’ union, pilots’ union, and even the CEO of Delta Airlines have been writing public letters to the TSA asking them to reconsider, saying that the change will do little to improve security and will have a marked impact on crew and passenger safety (due to the knives being allowed on planes).
Now, I am pretty skeptical that the TSA would be able to detect explosives, regardless of whether knives are allowed or not. However, it seems to me that the TSA ought be looking at previous instances of knife attacks prior to 2001 to determine if there are indeed reasons to warrant keeping the ban in place. As someone who travels frequently, I can tell you that the ban is pretty frustrating and inconvenient, and I have a hard time imagining a scenario where such a small knife could be used to inflict harm inside or outside of a plane.