Through all the racket, there is one group whose opinion I believe deserves to be heard, the employees of the airlines. Those men and women who are on the front lines, who have to deal with the loud passengers, the drunk passengers and those who refuse to follow simple rules asked by the airline to make it safer for all. Those who, at the end of the day, are not only the first ones on that plane – but in the case of any type of emergency or tragedy – will be the last ones off.
Below are the words of Sara Nelson. She is the International Vice President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 60,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines. The Big Slice is grateful she is sharing her thoughts with us. – Vince Yanez (TheBigSlice.org contributor)
Knives on Planes? Not Good.
Knives have no place on commercial airplanes. In a rational world, that statement would require no further explanation. But, shockingly in this post-9/11 world, TSA Administrator John Pistole has announced a rule change that will once again allow knives onboard the aircraft. For passengers, this endangers the security of their travel. For Flight Attendants, it introduces weapons into an air-tight, metal tube workplace where we are both First Responders and the last line of defense.John Pistole is completely wrong, yet completely dug in on this policy change. Air Marshals, TSA Officers, and Pilots agree with Flight Attendants, as do many major airline CEOs – a rare consensus among key players in commercial aviation. The people on the front lines of aviation security know this is a bad idea.
Risk-based security screening makes sense. But introducing risks into the system does not. Multi-layered security, including prohibition of items that could pose a threat, ensures U.S. aviation is the safest in the world. The ban on dangerous objects is an integral layer in aviation security. We do not need to choose between guarding against a hostile take-over attempt or prohibiting an explosive device. We need to ensure air travel is secured against all threats to our safety and security.
This rule doesn’t help combat potential terrorist attacks, or the daily disturbances Flight Attendants handle in aircraft cabins. Flights are fuller than ever, seats are smaller, tempers are hotter, and Flight Attendant staffing has been cut dramatically over the past 12 years. Air rage incidents have become a common occurrence. Introducing a weapon into the cabin makes an already volatile situation worse, and gives terrorists an opening for future attacks.
With Pistole’s intransigence, it appears it will now take an act of Congress to ban knives and restore a common sense approach to security. TSA argues that as long as the cockpit is secure, they have done their job. But aviation security doesn’t stop at the cockpit door; Flight Attendants and passengers in the cabin cannot be written off as acceptable casualties.
Flight Attendants believe the millions who travel expect to arrive safely – and it’s our job to ensure it. Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in the House (Markey/Grimm) to reverse TSA’s new rule and a White House petition to get the President to weigh in has 35,000 signatures. Flight Attendants won’t rest until common sense prevails and the ban on knives is maintained.
As a Boston-based Flight Attendant who lost friends on flight 175, this is personal. But, there’s not a Flight Attendant across the country who doesn’t think this is a terrible move for aviation security.
Please sign the petition to the White House now:www.NoKnivesOnPlanes.com, and call your representatives in Congress, 202-224-3121, to tell them to co-sponsor the No Knives Act of 2013. Keep up with our fight at www.facebook.com/afacwa, and share this issue with your friends and family. Flight Attendants, Air Marshals, Pilots and millions of air travelers and their families thank you.
Sara Nelson is the International Vice President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 60,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines.