Transportation Security Administration officials decided small knives and novelty baseball bats are safe to bring aboard a flight, but passengers are still asked to leave their water bottles at home.
The new changes, however, have some UF students and flight crew members concerned.
Emily Tercilla, a 20-year-old UF Spanish and political science junior, recently flew to the Bahamas during Spring Break. She said she feels scared to know other passengers can bring knives onto a plane.
“It’s one thing if a knife is checked in a bag under the plane, and it’s another if it’s in a carry-on bag,” she said.
TSA Administrator John S. Pistole approved the changes that will start April 25. In a statement released by TSA, the agency said it changed its policy so TSA officials could focus on higher-threat-level items such as explosives.
Gainesville Regional Airport officials and local TSA representatives declined to comment, citing security concerns with the policy changes.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, an organization that represents airline crew members, has petitioned online to the White House to reverse the policy. As of Monday night, about 35,000 people have signed the petition.
Brandon Macsata, co-founder and executive director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, said the TSA’s changes are based on a false premise.
“Weapons, or anything that could be used as a weapon, should not be allowed on a plane. Did we not learn anything from 9/11?” he wrote in an email.
Mark LaCroix, a captain of a Boeing 777 aircraft, has flown with American Airlines for 29 years. He said he’s not overly concerned with the TSA changes.
“I don’t believe the addition of 2.3-inch knives present any more risk to the flight crews than the extensive silverware that is already on the aircraft,” he wrote in an email.
However, LaCroix said pilots understand they are the last line of defense against hijackers and said American Airlines has asked TSA to re-evaluate the policy change.
“The first people to die on 9-11 were pilots, ” he wrote, “and I assure you none of us is going to let that happen again if there is anything we can do about it.”