TSA Compliance for Knives and Water

tsa knives

At first I thought Transportation Security Administration had gone completely insane. The blue shirts are now going to allow knives on planes as long as the blade is shorter than six centimeters and narrower than 1/2 inch. After looking closer I just think they merely incompetent.

Up front I should mention that I have never thought that post 9/11 airport security made me feel any safer flying. And if you balance the costs and aggravation to travelers against the small reduction in possible in-flight incidents, the TSA is completely out of control.

From a compliance perspective, the changes in the banned list make my head hurt.

Water, gels, and liquids in a container of more than 3 ounces are still dangerous. But actual knives are not.

Looking closer at the rules, the permitted knives are a very small subset of knives. The blades can’t be fixed or locked. That limits it to novelty knives. (I lost one of those to LaGuardia’s TSA line a few years ago with an old client’s logo on it.) The news releases and media report have largely failed to emphasize the continuing prohibition of locking blades. They should look closer at the image above.

I scratch my head over the use of centimeters for length and inches for width on limiting novelty knives. I guess the TSA wanted to use both sides of the ruler. Someday, the United States will join the rest of the world and embrace the metric system.

I suspect that TSA officials are big hockey fans because hockey sticks are now allowed on board. However, baseball bats are still banned, unless they are novelty size. You can also bring golf clubs, ski poles and lacrosse sticks on board. Clearly,  TSA officials are not baseball fans.

But that bottle of water is still more of a threat on board than a hockey stick.

Raise your hand if you think any of these rule changes are going to (1) make you feel safer flying, or (2) will result in less confusion in the long airport TSA lines? ……. No. I didn’t think so. That sounds like a policy failure, with the changes in policy failing to meet either of its main goals.



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2 Responses to TSA Compliance for Knives and Water

  1. Carl Frappaolo March 6, 2013 at 9:28 am #


    I share you frustration and head scratching. Like you, post 9/11 TSA rules have never made me feel safer. (I have lost a small pocket knife with a former client’s logo on it to them as well, and my “little” daughter a room service ketchup bottle she cherished as a novelty item.” The shoes on/shoes off issue really was baffling and comical. For years there was no consistency on policy across airports. (Let’s not even begin to debate why a hockey stick should be allowed on board to begin with.) Remember the days when they would ask you “Are you carrying anything dangerous with you?” Who were they expecting that to “catch”. I am somewhat reluctant to criticize them, theirs is a difficult and potentially critical job – but that being the case then it should be taken more seriously.


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