Flying with Knives? What the New TSA Regulations Mean for Travelers

Consumer protection, Safety, Travel

Airport crowd From April 25th on, you’ll be able to carry your Swiss Army Knife or your lacrosse stick on board with you. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced that it will soon remove restrictions on blades under 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) and certain sporting equipment. (Full-sized baseball bats, razor blades, box cutters, and blades longer than 2.36 inches will still be prohibited.) While not everyone is happy with the change, it looks like the TSA is trying to make security checkpoints run more smoothly and to focus on bigger threats to safety.

TSA Restrictions since 9/11

While an inconvenience to passengers, these restrictions haven’t been too hard to live with. So why lift the ban now? TSA Administrator John Pistole, who announced the decision earlier this month, says that he wants screeners spend less time looking for objects that don’t pose a huge threat, and more time searching for things like non-metallic bombs, which could cause catastrophic damage.

Small blades and other potential weapons, like bats and sticks, were banned from carry-on bags after the September 11th attacks. The TSA also placed restrictions on liquids and, for a short time, lighters. After Richard Reid’s failed “shoe bomb plot” in December 2001, passengers were required to remove their shoes during the screening process. Other safety measures the TSA implemented include adding more air marshals to domestic and international flights, reinforcing cockpit doors, and installing full-body scanners in several airports. Despite these greater security measures, flight attendants expressed concern over the safety of the crew and want the TSA to maintain the ban on blades and sporting equipment.

Breezing Through Airport Security

Maybe this decision will reduce time spent at the security checkpoint and maybe it won’t. With the other restrictions in place, getting through security still takes time. Think ahead and save yourself some trouble. Here are some tips on getting through airport security fast:

1) Consider joining the TSA’s Precheck initiative, which prescreens eligible passengers and allows expedited security screening for domestic flights.

2) Anticipate glitches at the checkpoint.

  • Documents. Have your boarding pass and ID easily accessible to show as you go through security.
  • Liquids. Keep liquids in containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less, and keep containers together in a zip-top quart-sized plastic bag. Exceptions: Baby formula, milk, and prescription medications (like insulin) can be brought in amounts over 3.4 ounces. Declare them at security.
  • Laptops. You’ll have to remove your laptop from your bag and place it in a bin, so make it easy to get to.
  • Shoes. Because you’ll need to remove them before going through the scanner, loafers and heels are a smarter choice than lace-up shoes and boots.
  • Coats. Remove outer coats and lay flat over your bag in the tray.
  • Metal. Remember to remove metallic things like your belt, watch, large pieces of jewelry, and hair clips.

3) If you’re unsure of whether you can carry something on board with you, ask airport security personnel or check on the TSA website.