WASHINGTON - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will let people carry small pocketknives onto passenger planes for the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with golf clubs, hockey sticks and plastic Wiffle Ball style bats.
The agency will permit knives with retractable blades shorter than 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) and narrower than 1/2 inch at the widest point, TSA Administrator John Pistole said Tuesday at an aviation security conference. The change, to conform with international rules, will take effect April 25.
Pistole, the former No. 2 official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation has stressed the use of intelligence and "risk- based" security during his tenure leading TSA. The agency is moving away from uniform procedures that apply to every passenger and toward efforts to perform background checks on passengers before they arrive at an airport.
Overseas passengers will no longer have to check the qualifying knives as they pass through the U.S. The agency will still prohibit some knives, including those with locking blades or molded handles, Pistole said. Box cutters, like those used by the Sept. 11 terrorists, and razor blades will still be banned.
The agency will relax its prohibited-item list in other ways, Pistole said. Passengers will be allowed to carry on sticks used to play lacrosse, billiards and hockey, ski poles and as many as two golf clubs, he said.
The agency is also carving out two exceptions to its ban on most baseball and softball bats. It will allow souvenir, novelty baseball bats less than 24 inches long and will permit lightweight plastic bats even if they're more than 2 feet long (61 centimeters).
The sporting goods have been deemed acceptable based on recommendations from a TSA working group that's trying to weed out commonly confiscated items that don't present a security threat, agency spokesman David Castelveter said.
"These are popular items we see regularly," Castelveter said. "They don't present a risk to transportation security."
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