Flight attendants are urging travelers to protest the decision by federal authorities to allow passengers to carry small knives onto planes.
Members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants started handing out leaflets to departing passengers at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday.
The union said it wants the flying public to be aware of the Transportation Security Administration's decision to allow knives that are less than 2.4 inches long and sporting equipment such as golf clubs and bats through security and onto planes in carry-on luggage.
"I think Administrator (John) Pistole has decided he has a different philosophy about risk-based security than we do," said Julie Frederick, APFA spokeswoman. "And we really want to protect the passengers on the airplane, the flying public, as well as our crew members."
Frederick has met with Pistole and others, since his announcement earlier this month. She said he wants to align the United States with European policy, but flight attendants, air marshals, TSA employees, pilots and several airlines want the country to maintain its own policy.
"The length of the knife that they're going to permit is the size of the knife that the terrorists used on 9/11 to gain access to the cockpit by threatening passengers and flight attendants," Frederick said.
The APFA and a coalition of flight attendants will continue to hand out leaflets until the new policy takes effect on April 25. They want members of the public to contact their representatives and sign an online White House petition to delay the new policy and possible block it or have the TSA rescind it.
Flight attendants say they feel there would be a major safety issue if the knives are allowed aboard, given that they deal with disturbances on flights on a daily basis.
"We just think that this is a nonstarter," Frederick said. "It's absolutely a safety issue for the flight attendants and the traveling public. We have things that happen every day. We just think this is a bad idea."
A vast majority of the people who received leaflets at DFW on Thursdsay said they agreed that they do not want to see knives on board. Some questioned how knives could be allowed when liquids still would not be.
"You're telling me you can do that, but you can't bring in more than 100 milliliters of liquid, right?" said Michael Mira of Los Angeles. "So, I got my eye drops taken away from me, my contact solution? Cool, that's about all I can say to that."
Many called the idea "stupid" and "not good" as they prepared to board international flights.
Flight attendants across the nation will continue to hand out the leaflets next week at their base airports, as they want people to sign the petition at noknivesonplanes.com.