Here we go again. I’m certain you’re all aware of the most pressing news that hit the air waves a little more than a week ago. Our beloved Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced a new policy – one that allows passengers to carry small knives on board flights. This will go into effect on April 25, 2013. Now, not only are some of the family members of victims killed on 9/11 outraged, flack has also come down from executives for more than three major airlines, pilots and the cabin crew. In fact, someone who lost their fire fighter son in the World Trade Center explained, “I’m flabbergasted and disgusted by this latest news.”
So, there I sat in the bank, along with two others, waiting for one of the officers to come out and ask, “Who’s next?” Being in the middle of running errands, I mindlessly watched the television nestled in its perch when this story hit the screen. Not having the conscience to restrain my thoughts or I should say, before I had a compunction to keep my mouth shut, I exclaimed, “How soon we forget.” It all happened before I could grasp a hold of my faculties, and as though another person or entity had taken over my mind. But, to reassure me, two other voices chimed in immediately and answered, “Right?” So, you see, it’s not just me.
Can I just take a few minutes to add my three cents? Have the people running the TSA forgotten the reason for its birth? I mean, when Chief Executive Officers of airlines write letters to them expressing their concerns, doesn’t that right away tell you, this is not a determination as to where dinner will be held after the senior prom? The CEO of Delta, the second largest airline in the world, thought that if the purpose of this new ruling involved increasing security checkpoint flow, there had to be a much more effective step to streamline the security checkpoints. He added that there had to be something even the airlines could do together with the TSA – side by side, if you will. I don’t know, but if that doesn’t sound like a supplication, I don’t know what does. Do we need another incident, God forbid, to wake up whomever made this decision? As it is, in 2012 a poll conducted by the Frequent Business Traveler organization found that 56% of frequent fliers were “not satisfied” with the TSA. I mean, we’ve all heard stories – we’ve all seen people in tears or foaming at the mouth like a mad dog after coming through security. Without bringing up another topic, I again have to applaud Aaron Tobey for his courage in wanting to defend his rights.
This new guideline states, knives permitted must be able to fold and have blades that are 2.36 inches or less in length. Is there a difference in that size blade and a box cutter? Okay, so box cutters and razor blades are still prohibited. But, is sharp not sharp any longer? And, cannot sharp draw blood – enough to disable a person? If this is about a corkscrew on one of those Swiss Army knives, I have never been in any hotel that could not supply one. Or been in a place that I could not at least pick one up cheap, at the local liquor store down the street; even in the Caribbean. I’m just trying to understand why you’d need to travel with a knife. The TSA says they have incorporated gun-carrying pilots posing as passengers in the mix who are capable of assisting, if need be. Pilots and crew members have to now take lessons meant for air marshals? Another concern is that not all flights have this luxury, so what do they do?
Not only have CEOs and crew members complained of this new law. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which consists of members who are federal air marshals have criticized this as well. They too, will ask congress to block the policy change. I heard it noted that reinforced cockpit doors and passengers who have shown a willingness to intervene has reduced the threat of terrorism. Excuse me? Is that not the same as saying – Ah, you know what? I won’t book a flight for next week, because I know I won’t be in the mood to stave off any captors. Or, my husband didn’t sleep well last night; he’s very tired, so I hope he doesn’t have to keep attackers from the cockpit on his flight today. Really? You know what? Enough is enough. I think all of this is ludicrous. Isn’t it always when you turn your back – let down your guard? Were we not all asked to be vigilant? Since 9/11 can any of us relax, and give up that vigilance? And, no – I’m not saying that we need to live in fear. But, we are all aware that our reality has, without doubt, been changed.
To try to combat the issue, the Flight Attendants Union Coalition has organized a national legislative and public campaign to reverse this new policy. They drew up a petition that is at the White House website, under the tab “We The People.” I, for one, already went over and signed it. If you’re not aware, by April 5, 2013, and as of now, another 68,791 signatures are needed, (100,000 are required to have the ruling reversed). Yes, it has been eleven years, but we really can never forget. If you are so inclined, I’d ask that you click your way to the site and weigh in by signing the petition. I think, together we can make a difference.
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