WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 90,000-strong Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions today celebrated the success of its campaign to keep knives off planes and commended the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for holding the line against weapons on flights.
“We promised ‘No Knives on Planes Ever Again,’ and today that promise was kept,” the Flight Attendant Coalition announced. “Terrorists armed only with knives killed thousands of Americans on 9/11/2001. As the women and men on the front lines in the air, we vowed to do everything in our power to protect passengers and flight crews from harm and prevent that type of atrocity from happening ever again. We commend the TSA for revising its policy based on input from front line aviation workers with the greatest stake in the rule change. The result is better security policy and the assurance that our nation’s aviation security system continues to be vigilant for knives that could be used in a terrorist attack or criminal act against passengers or crew.”
Five unions representing 90,000 Flight Attendants from across the industry quickly mobilized after the TSA announced plans on March 5, 2013 to allow knives with blades up to 2.36 inches long back onto aircraft cabins for the first time since 9/11. Knives in the hands of terrorists or mentally ill or drunk or drugged passengers would have posed a clear threat to everyone in the air and in airport secure areas.
On May 6, 2013, each of the coalition unions representing Flight Attendants joined with TSA screeners, pilots, law enforcement officers and airline passengers to file a legal petition to the TSA against the rule change that would have permitted knives in the aircraft cabin. Administrator John Pistole demonstrated leadership and sound judgment by responding to this petition and other stakeholder feedback. Today, the Administrator has determined that knives will remain on the official “prohibited items list” governing what airline passengers may carry on their persons or in carry-on bags onto planes.
The Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions was quickly joined by organizations representing virtually everyone else potentially affected by a new knife policy, including TSA security officers, pilots, gate agents, federal air marshals, and airline passengers. The Flight Attendants thank the American Federation of Government Employees representing TSA Security Officers, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, FlyersRights.org, the nation’s largest organization representing air travelers, the Coalition of Pilots Associations, the United Airlines chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, the families of Betty Ong, Sara Low and Alfred Marchand as well as Airlines for America, the trade association representing U.S. airlines.
Flight Attendants also wish to thank Members of Congress from both parties for their crucial support. House Homeland Security Members Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) were instrumental in pushing for a process that would include input from aviation stakeholders. Congressmen Ed Markey (D-MA) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) led the charge against knives in the aircraft cabin by introducing the No Knives Act of 2013 within days of the policy announcement. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY), the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) co-sponsored the “Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act.”
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Media Contacts: Corey Caldwell, AFA, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Anthony DeMaio, APFA, email@example.com ; James Carlson, IAM, firstname.lastname@example.org ; David White, IBT, email@example.com ; Jamie Horwitz, TWU, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Flight Attendants Union Coalition coordinates on issues of mutual interest to Flight Attendants. Members of the Coalition are the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and Transport Workers Union (TWU).Read More
Organizations Representing 400,000 On The Front Lines Of U.S. Aviation Submit Legal Petition To TSA And Homeland Security To Keep All Knives Off Planes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lawyers for nine organizations representing 400,000 aviation professionals, passengers and law enforcement officers today filed a legal petition with Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole and copied to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano seeking to rescind plans to allow knives in the aircraft cabins for the first time since 9/11.
“The Transportation Security Administration and the Homeland Security Department cannot dismiss the grave security concerns of 400,000 people on the front lines of U.S. aviation, including TSA’s own Transportation Security Officers and Air Marshals,” the coalition asserted. The coalition also includes flight attendants, gate agents, pilots, law enforcement and passengers.
The petition makes five critical points:
— Permitting knives in the cabin is an unnecessary risk to the traveling public and violates the Administrator’s duty—as set out by Congress. A TSA-approved knife could be used to stab or kill a passenger, crew member, federal air marshal, gate agent or TSA Security Officer by a terrorist, mentally ill person or drug or alcohol-impaired passenger. A TSA-approved knife could be used to hijack a plane.
— It would be irresponsible to relax the TSA’s existing policy on knives when virtually every organization representing those directly affected by the change adamantly opposes it on safety and security grounds.
— Federal regulations currently ban all weapons on airplanes and in airport secure areas, and a knife is a weapon.
— TSA’s argument for the change is false. TSA says the change would bring the US in line with the international standard for knives. There is no international standard for knives: Canada, Israel and Taiwan – to name a few – ban knives on planes.
— One of the nation’s foremost experts on knives provides testimony stating that with many folding knives the only way to be certain whether its blade locks is to open the knife. However, TSA has instructed its Officers to screen knives in only a closed position. Consequently, knives that lock will inevitably wind up on airport concourses and aircraft cabins. Should TSA change its directive and allow TSA’s officer to directly examine knives at security checkpoints, the Officers would have to devote substantially more time to screening knives and security lines would slow.Read More