Thoughts on: The TSA’s decision to allow small knives on airplanes

When I first heard of the Transportation Safety Administration’s decision last week to allow passengers to carry small knives on airplanes, my knee jerked and I had a reaction — “what the hell are these guys thinking,” I said out loud. Then I recalled something that happened to me a few months back.

My wife and I had just returned to Florida from a trip to New Jersey. Our flight had taken us through both Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International airport, and Newark Liberty International airport. We’d just gotten home and I was in the process of unpacking my carry-on bag, when for some reason, I opened one of those zippered exterior pockets, even though I hadn’t recalled packing anything in it. You know those pockets, they’re too small to stash a magazine, and too big for a cell phone, so they are rarely used.

“Hey, look what I found,” I said to my wife. “Right here in this seldom used exterior pocket in my recently landed, carry-on bag.” Well, I said something like that.

“Isn’t that your ‘road corkscrew’,” she said, recognizing the dangerous instrument immediately. She looked at me like I’d just pulled a loaded Glock 9 out of the bag.

Now just a bit of background – my ‘road corkscrew’ had been missing for quite some time. I had purchased it in an outdoor store in Springdale, Utah, just outside of Zion National Park, years before. It had a really nice wooden handle with a corkscrew that snapped securely into place when extended, not like those cheapo $1.99 throwaways you can pick up by the beer cooler at 7-11. No, this one was nice, and it had served me well. I had taken it on camping trips, business trips and road trips. Anyone who has ever found themselves staring down an unopened bottle of chardonnay in a remote Econo-Lodge in central Nebraska, on a rainy night, after a long day on the road, will appreciate the value of a ‘road corkscrew’.

Anyway, the other end of my road corkscrew’s handle contains a folding knife. Not a locking blade knife, but a very sharp knife. It can make fast work of even the toughest lime – its blade is just a bit under 2.5 inches.

“How long has that been there?” asked my wife. I could only shake my head, because I had to think about that one.

For the record, neither my wife or I are frequent fliers. We are far from it, but we do make, on average 4 – 6 trips per year by air. But, as nearly as I could determine, this instrument had criss-crossed the United States multiple times in my bag, passing through not only Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International and Newark Liberty, but McCarran International in Las Vegas.

This isn’t a knock on the TSA. These guys have a huge job on their hands, and in spite of the bad rap they get for strip searching us, rummaging through our bags and confiscating our shampoo, they’re all just trying to make sure we all get to our destinations in one piece. So for that I applaud the TSA.

I also am well aware of the fact that the biggest weapon in the 911 hijacker’s arsenal was one of surprise. It think it is highly unlikely, if not downright impossible, that an airliner will be taken by anyone with ‘road corkscrew’, or a pair of nail clippers. What I do see, however, increasingly, are unruly passengers. Justifiably, the folks most upset about this new ruling are the flight attendants. They have to deal with the surly, obnoxious and most often inebriated passengers. I’m talking about the arrogant jackass who just polished off six rum and cokes at the airport bar and is enraged when the flight attendant refuses to serve a seventh to him at 35,000 feet.

It seems to me that keeping this ban in place just makes sense. I mean, we are already scanning and confiscating an assortment of other items. Until someone ensures me that an air marshal is riding on every flight, then the sky is a rather lawless place to be–and just for the record, my ‘road corkscrew’ will be traveling in my checked bag from now on, or it will be staying home.