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The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) turned heads last week after changing a key component of their prohibited items policy, which will allow small knives to be stored in carry-on luggage. After pushback from industry groups, and airline carriers opposing the change, TSA chief John Pistole is standing firm on the new rule, reports ABC News.

Pistole went on the offensive and brushed aside critics who want small knives to remain part of the banned items group before passengers enter an airplane. “I have to make sure that TSA’s focus is on those things that are most destructive to the aircraft,” Pistole told ABC News. “It is not pocket knives. It is those non-metallic improvised explosive devices, the bombs that are very small. They are concealable and they are well designed.”

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson joined US Airways CEO Doug Parker in pushing for Pistole to reconsider the move. “These items have been banned for more than 11 years and will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers,” wrote Anderson, in a letter to the TSA.  Parker added in a separate letter, “seeking input before implementing a change in policy that might place out flight attendants’ safety at risk would have provided a more thoughtful path to the desired outcome of secure and safe air travel.”

Sharp objects may be a sore point for Delta, this after a criminal investigation was launched against the carrier last summer after needles were discovered in sandwiches served on an America-bound flight from Amsterdam.  It has been reported that the  TSA has allowed passengers on board some international flights with small pocket and utility knives since 2010, without any prior incidents. “Since 2010 passengers have been allowed to fly with these small knives. And there hasn’t been a single incident, worldwide,” Pistole pointed out.

Additionally, in 2005,  passengers were cleared to carry small scissors, knitting needles, tweezers, nail clippers, and as many as four books of matches, onto an aircraft.

TSA’s new small knife policy, which will also allow travelers to carry on some sporting items as well, states that knives under two and a half inches can be carried in a passenger’s bags. The plan is scheduled to take place in April.

Check out the gallery featuring photos from TSA’s website highlighting the updated small knives guidelines on the following pages.

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