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Flight attendants take knife fight to public

Friday - 4/5/2013, 4:28pm  ET

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Tim Westin, an American Airlines flight attendant, hands leaflet to Greg Hogue, of Little Rock, Ark., at Reagan National Airport Friday. Flight attendents want the government to continue banning passengers from bringing knives on planes. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Reagan National travelers weigh in

Kathy Stewart, WTOP

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Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The knife fight is on.

At airports across the country, flight attendants are handing out leaflets and trying to get the public to support their efforts to keep small knives off of airplanes.

Steve Dinkin, a flight attendant with American Airlines, was at Reagan National Airport Friday morning handing out flyers that read "No Knives Ever Again." He and other airline employees are campaigning against the Transportation Security Administration's decision to allow passengers to carry knives on planes beginning April 25.

TSA officials say ending the ban on small pocket knives will free up agents' time to screen for more dangerous items like explosives, which can bring a plane down. Each day, TSA screeners confiscate about 2,000 small knives.

But the plan to allow knives back in the cabins of planes has sparked strong opposition from flight attendants, air marshals and some pilot unions. Knives were banned from planes after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the hijackers used knives to commandeer the planes.

Flight attendants passed out this leaflet to fliers at Reagan National Airport Friday morning. Airline employees are appealing to the public to keep a ban on knives in place. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Robert Valenta is an American Airlines flight attendant and Washington, D.C. chair of a coalition of flight attendant unions, which represents 90,000 flight attendants.

"We're certainly not opposed to TSA lifting some of its bans, but not starting with potential weapons," Valenta says.

The flight attendants are asking passengers to get involved by signing a petition at Noknivesonplanes.com or to call their senator ahead of an April 11 Senate hearing on the TSA proposal.

Valenta says the new TSA plan also would allow "ski poles and hockey sticks other items that could be used as a weapon."

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