“The APFA and our colleagues at other Flight Attendant unions have enjoyed a close working relationship with TSA since its inception,” said APFA President Laura Glading. “That’s why I’m a little puzzled that such a momentous decision would be made without consulting us. In addition to being industry stakeholders, first responders, and September 11th victims, Flight Attendants are a resource. Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do.”
While the APFA welcomes the periodic review of items banned from being carried on the airplane, it categorically rejects a proposal to allow knives of any kind in the cabin. Additionally, today’s announcement includes relaxing restrictions of such large items as hockey sticks, golf clubs, and ski poles, a policy which could lead to a more stressful and potentially dangerous environment for air travelers and employees.
“Passenger safety is our absolute top priority.” said APFA Safety and Security Coordinator Kelly Skyles. “Obviously, the prospect of pocket knives in the cabin is anathema but there are other problems as well. There’s less space than ever in overhead bins and on some particular aircraft safely storing these large items will be impossible. Add to that the cramped confines of an airplane cabin, and you have the potential for passengers getting hit with these items during boarding and deplaning. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
APFA plans to address these concerns with TSA Administrator John Pistole and, if necessary, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as soon as possible. “The timing couldn’t be worse, frankly,” said APFA Legislative Representative Julie Frederick. “We’re still not sure what sequestration means for airport TSA or the Federal Air Marshal Service. We must assume that enforcement of this new policy will fall squarely on the shoulders of Flight Attendants. We look forward to addressing these concerns with the Administration as soon as possible.”
About APFA – Founded in 1977, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) is the largest independent Flight Attendant union in the nation. It represents the 17,000 Flight Attendants at American Airlines. APFA Members live in almost every state of the nation as well as several countries and serve millions of Americans as they travel the nation and the world. In 2003, APFA played a major role in keeping American Airlines solvent and out of bankruptcy by giving back an employee bailout of $340 million in annual salary and benefits, for a total of over $3 billion and counting. APFA had been in negotiations with American for almost four years when the carrier filed for chapter 11-bankruptcy protection on November 29, 2011. Laura Glading, a 34-year flight attendant, is serving her second four-year term as president of the union.