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TODAY   |  March 06, 2013

TSA to allow small knives on planes

In an effort to free screeners from searching for small knives and other carry-on items that they cannot bring on a plane, the TSA is changing its rules regarding certain knives, which has flight attendants concerned. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> another big story we're following this morning, a major change coming if you fly. it's stirring up a lot of controversy. starting next month for the first time since 9/11, passengers will be allowed to carry some knives on to flights. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams is at reagan national airport . good morning, pete.

>> reporter: reagan national pretty much shut down right now, matt, but the tsa says the whole idea here is to avoid hassles for the millions of americans who carry pocket knives and free screeners for having to search for knives that can't bring down a plane and they say with hardened cockpit doors, knives are less of a threat. it's been in place for more than a decade, strict airline security rule that forbids passengers to carry knives on board with them. that's about to change. it's part of an effort to focus the attention of screeners on the most serious threats.

>> we are trying to focus on the highest risks. that being the nonmetallic improvised explosive devices and we don't want the small knives, pocket knives , sporting equipment to be a distraction.

>> reporter: the change also brings the u.s. in line with international security rules, allowing knives that have blades up to six centimeters long. beginning next month, passengers can carry on knives with folding blades no longer than 2 1/3 inches, six centimeters and half an inch thick. knives that lock into place or have molded handles will still be banned. same for box cutters and razor blades , still banned. hockey stick , pool cues and golf clubs . some 35 million americans carry pock pocketknife. early reaction we sampled were negative.

>> i don't like it.

>> i don't know why they would allow people to carry knives on the plane. it's ridiculous to me.

>> reporter: flight attendants say the move increases the risk to them.

>> this is a slippery slope . what will be the next slope that can come on board? with we're there to protect and serve passengers and also ourselves. we don't want to see weapons unnecessarily introduced on board the aircraft.

>> reporter: passengers will also be allowed to carry on souvenir baseball bats . matter of fact, any bat up to 24 inches long and weighing up to 24 ounces. all this goes into effect april 25th and there will be no change on the ban on liquids. savannah?

>> pete williams , thank you. we actually have some of the knives that helps you visualize the size of -- these would be okay, 2 1/3 inches, six centimeters. the average swiss army knife is now permitted. you, on the other hand --

>> that is not going to be allowed on the flight. not only because the blade is too big, but because it locks in place, much more dangerous weapon . ski poles okay. pool cues, baseball bats and only hockey sticks, but only if it's like this one and it's for who canny 1948 , apparently, then it's allowed. new rules coming to an airport near you.

>> pucks permitted as well.