According to a recent press report, the United States Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) administrator Edmund S. Hawley requested in an August 5, 2005 document a number of changes to airport screening, including proposals to
allow knives, ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows to be carried onboard
airplanes. The TSA also announced that some individuals will be exempt from
airport security screening, including Members of Congress, Cabinet members,
state governors, federal judges, high-ranking military officers, people with
top-secret security clearances and airline pilots.
On May 13, 2005, a hearing was held by the House of Representatives
Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on
Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity, to
discuss exempting pilots from airport security screening. Speaking at that
hearing were Debra Burlingame, Member, 9/11 Families for a
Secure America, Captain
Duane Woerth, President, Airline Pilots Association, and Candace Kolander, Air Safety, Health and Security
Coordinator, AFA-CWA. It was apparent at that hearing that the Subcommittee
majority members were not greatly moved by AFA-CWA concerns with respect to screening
policies; rather, they seemed only to want to hear from the airline work group
they felt had "real responsibilities". Now it appears that the TSA
has that attitude as well; i.e., pilots should walk on through while flight
attendants are left cooling their heels in security lines.
AFA-CWA has three main concerns regarding the proposed TSA
#1) The TSA did not ask us for input and advice on these
issues; moreover, AFA-CWA has had to learn about these proposed changes through
#2) Should TSA allow any of the weapons listed above onboard
commercial flights, flight attendants (and all other airplane occupants) will
be put at increased risk.
#3) Flight attendants are subjected to the same level of
screening and background checks as pilots (except for FFDOs); to exempt pilots
from screening while ignoring other aviation employees who are comparably
checked is ridiculous. In any case, given the threat of terrorism,
AFA-CWA believes that a certain level of airport screening for all aviation
employees is necessary.
On August 18, 2005, AFA-CWA sent
a letter to the TSA to express our strong concerns with these proposed
changes. We also issued a press release
on the matter and the Washington Post and MSNBC provided
media coverage. In addition, AFA-CWA will take these concerns to Capitol Hill
to request that Congress recommend TSA modify their recent airport screening
AFA Activity and Hot Topics
ATTENDANTS DISAPPROVE OF PROPOSED TSA REVISIONS, AFA Press release
August 16, 2005.
from AFA-CWA International President Patricia Friend to TSA Administrator
Edmund S. Hawley, dated August 16, 2005.
to News Articles
and knives allowed back on planes?; August 17, 2005: Flight
attendants urged the federal government not to relax its rules on passengers'
carrying sharp objects onto planes. But airline pilots disagree. By Pete
Williams, Justice correspondent, NBC News. Washington - Wednesday, the
nation’s largest union of airline flight attendants urged the federal
government not to relax its rules that ban passengers from carrying on items
that could be used as weapons. But airline pilots say it would be a good move,
allowing a better focus on actual threats.
TSA Proposal Questioned By Flight Attendants; By
Sara Kehaulani Goo, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, August 17, 2005;
Page A05. The nation's largest flight attendants union yesterday
questioned a federal government proposal to end the ban on knives, ice picks
and razor blades on board commercial airplanes.
Airline Security Changes Planned, Threats Reassessed To Make
Travel Easier for Public; By Sara Kehaulani Goo, Washington Post
Staff Writer, Saturday, August 13, 2005; Page A01. The new head of the
Transportation Security Administration has called for a broad review of the
nation's air security system to update the agency's approach to threats and
reduce checkpoint hassles for passengers.
of Homeland Security