Flight attendants from the Association for Flight Attendants said on Thursday at Charlotte Douglas Airport that they're worried the Transportation Security Administration may allow people to take some small knives on planes as early as Memorial Day weekend.
They said multiple sources have informed them that while the TSA's push, which was announced in March and was supposed to take effect in April, is on a "temporary delay," the new rules could take effect this month.
Glenda Talley, a U.S. Airways flight attendant for 37 years, called the plan "irresponsible."
She and members of the Association for Flight Attendants, as well as eight other organizations representing groups like passengers, pilots and air marshals, signed a petition against it.
The TSA said allowing people to take the knives on board would mean a shorter trip through security. It says officers could focus on catching bigger threats, like explosives. But many passengers called it risky.
"You can kill somebody with a small blade just as easy as you can with a large one," Julia Miller said.
"I just don't think we need that headache, no," Greg Townsley said.
Talley said there is no mandatory, hands-on training that would teach her how to fight off a passenger with a weapon. She said she gets 15 minutes of training annually in which they discuss different scenarios, but there is no active, physical training in how to disarm someone.
"We feel that it's a distinct danger for the public as well as crew members," she said. And Talley believes only allowing certain kinds of knives with specific blades and sizes would require more inspection. The blade cannot be 2.37 inches long or longer (2.36 inches or 6 cm is allowed); it cannot be wider than half an inch, and it cannot have a locking or fixed blade, a molded grip, or be a razor or box cutter.
"I don't see how that's faster than saying, 'There's a knife. It's not going on board,'" she said.
In addition to the legal petition, the association is urging lawmakers to support a bill, H.R. 1093, also called the "No Knives Act of 2013."
The TSA wouldn't comment on the association's concerns about implementation this month. TSA spokesperson Jon Allen released a statement saying that the TSA has temporarily delayed implementation of the changes to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee," a group that includes passenger advocates and law enforcement experts.
"This timing will enable TSA to incorporate the ASAC's feedback about the changes ... and continue workforce training," the statement read.
Passenger Gary Johnson, who carries a pocket knife every day, doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
"I think it would probably be fine," he said.
The Association of Flight Attendants is meeting on Monday with Congressman Richard Hudson, who chairs the subcommittee on transportation security. In a statement, he said he's "for preventing terrorist threats and for getting people through airport security faster," and that he looks forward to a meeting with the association "to discuss how we can advance those two goals."