TSA Proposal Questioned By Flight Attendants

TSA Proposal Questioned By Flight Attendants

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 17, 2005; Page A05

The nation's largest flight attendants union yesterday questioned a federal government proposal to end the ban on knives, ice picks and razor blades on board commercial airplanes.

"As the front-line personnel with little or no effective security training or means of self defense, such weapons could prove fatal to our members," Patricia A. Friend, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a letter to Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, the new leader of the Transportation Security Administration. "They may not assist in breaking through a flightdeck door, but they could definitely lead to the deaths of flight attendants and passengers."

The TSA is reviewing security procedures at the nation's airports to determine whether they protect against current terrorist threats. An internal TSA document last week detailed proposals that focus on protecting the nation from an inflight suicide bombing attack and suggested that certain categories of passengers, such as high-ranking government officials and airline crews, could be exempt from security screening. The proposals also included a possible end to the ban on certain items allowed in carry-on luggage.

A TSA spokeswoman said the proposals would not reduce the level of security at airports, adding that no final decisions have been made. "The approach is about focusing the limited resources TSA has where the threat is the greatest," spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said. "The challenge here is to look at security through the lens of threat vulnerability and consequence. The suggestions that are being considered are part of a larger effort to challenge the measures we have in place to help us improve security."

The flight attendants, whose union represents 46,000 members, said that easing the ban on some prohibited items could pose a safety risk on board the aircraft and lead to incidents that terrorize passengers even if they do not involve a hijacking.

TSA Proposal Questioned By Flight Attendants


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