Plastics wiffle-ball bats now “safe” on planes

Plastics wiffle-ball bats are now acceptable as passenger carry-ons for commercial aircraft under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), according to an announcement from Washington, D.C. The “novelty or toy” bats, which are also made of wood, must measure less than 24 inches in length, or weigh less than 24 oz, according to the announcement.
The TSA has also decided that some sporting equipment may now be taken aboard, including lacrosse and hockey sticks, ski poles, pool cues, and golf clubs, but only two golf clubs per passenger. Such equipment frequently incorporates plastics, reinforced plastics, and carbon composites.
The rationale covering all of the items mentioned here is that they could NOT be used to bring down a plane, what with the advent of reinforced cockpit doors. When I stop to think of it, I conclude that all of these items are rather sorry excuses for weapons, and that a well-trained flight attendant could make short work of anyone who got belligerent with one of these things.
The permission for “novelty bats” brings back memories of an episode I witnessed in an airport after a long-ago National Plastics Exposition (NPE) in Chicago. One of the blowmolding-equipment suppliers at the show was demonstrating production of such bats and handing them out as novelty samples. At the airport a line of 10 or so passengers, most of them sporting a highly conspicuous hollow bat of red plastics, were in line to board a plane. After rejecting a couple of these bats, airline personnel came to the realization that almost every passenger remaining in the line had one. The airline staff succumbed to the reality that these were worthless as weapons and let everybody remaining in the line carry the bat onto the plane.
I was not on that flight, and did not have a bat, but had a good laugh. Maybe the other passengers did, too, what with all these adults boarding the plane with these kiddie toys. At that time, gate agents could apparently allow bats on board at their discretion. Times have changed, and now the bats are permissible according to official policy.
In addition, small knives, such as are probably known to most of us as “Swiss Army Knives,” are now permissible. The knives frequently incorporate exterior plastics components. Knives with molded polymer handles, including those I knew as “switch-blades” in my youth, are not permitted. Flight attendants have shown little interest in plastics as such, but are resisting the change in regulations that allows some knives in the passenger cabin. The changes are slated to take effect on April 25, 2013. –Merle R. Snyder


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