Bats, clubs OK. Knives? No way Locally, little support for sharp items on planes

Dave Maves of Charleston (center), at the security line Wednesday at Charleston International Airport, said he is opposed to knives being allowed back onto airplanes.

Golf pro Bo Botelho of Massachusetts is just fine with nine irons and wedges getting to ride in coach.

But knives too?

“I don’t know about letting something with a blade coming through,” he said Wednesday as he waited for a flight out of Charleston.

Nearby, Dave Maves of Charleston backed up Botelho’s reasoning.

“Why would we want to go back to bringing little sharp things onto planes?” he said. “Somebody who’s trained could do a lot of stuff with that.”

Travelers at Charleston International Airport weren’t supportive of the Transportation Security Administration’s newly announced switch to allow small knives back onto commercial airplanes.

But they do seem OK with having sports equipment ride in the cabin, contending that ski poles, toy plastic bats and lacrosse sticks aren’t as deadly. Plus they will be better protected than in the cargo bay.

“I’ll always say ‘yes’ to golf clubs,” Botelho said, adding that putting hockey and lacrosse sticks on the “approved” list will make it easier for parents, children and teenagers bound for sports tournaments.

Beginning April 25, TSA will permit folding knives with blades measuring 2.36 inches or less, and less than a half-inch wide, as carry-on. TSA Administrator John Pistole said the switch is meant to allow pen knives, wine corkscrews and other pocket knives back on board.

Box cutters, such as what the 9/11 terrorists carried, still would be banned, as would knives that don’t fold or are large and grip-handled.

Passengers also will be permitted to include as part of their carry-ons toy plastic ball bats, pool cues, ski poles, hockey and lacrosse sticks, and two loose-carried golf clubs.

Novelty-size baseball bats, such as what the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team has sold, less than 24 inches long also are OK.

Pistole said the change was done to align the U.S. with international standards, and to free up screeners to focus on more pressing dangers, including guns, explosives or the components to make an improvised explosive device.

Representatives of the crews that fly and staff the airplanes have criticized the move, saying things such as blades, bats and corkscrews still can be used as deadly or harmful weapons for anyone with intent. On Wednesday they increased their calls to have the decision reversed.

Locally, several experienced travelers said Wednesday they are siding with the flight attendants and crews, and remained concerned about re-introducing potentially thousands of knives back into the air and airports.

“I don’t see any reason that a person has to have a knife on board” an airplane, said Gail Walker, of Marion, Ohio, as she stood at the Charleston ticketing gate. “If it’s not that important, you check your knife.”

Others said the change is not that big a deal, and that they saw the TSA being more flexible through experience.

“I don’t think ski poles are our biggest worry,” said Ben Hammock, who travels between Charleston and New York.

Some said the change does nothing for them. Cassandra McKinney, of Dallas, said she is waiting for the TSA to ease its restrictions on items that she and thousands of others say are vital to their everyday life — toiletries, makeup and other necessities restricted by size and weight.

“I’d prefer they let me carry my lotion on, as opposed to carrying my knife on,” she said.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.