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Small Knives Are Now Allowed On Planes, And I Don't Feel Any Less Safe

Aligning Canadian policy regarding small knife blades with international policies will not compromise our safety in the air.

11/27/2017 14:08 EST | Updated 11/27/2017 14:40 EST

Transport Canada's new policies — announced recently — have become a political issue in Ottawa (and now also in Quebec City).

Small knife blades measuring less than six centimetres (two and a half inches) are now allowed through security and onto planes departing from Canada starting today (razor blades and box cutters will continue to be banned).

The Washington Post/Getty Images
Swiss army knives.

This will apply to all flights except those going to the U.S. Why not for flights to the U.S.? Because the United States is basically the only place in the world where small knife blades of that kind aren't allowed on flights.

Yes, the reason behind the policy change is actually to harmonize Canadian rules with the international standards: as much as I disagree on a lot of things this government does, they are simply conforming to what all the other countries are doing, not inventing a new policy just for the sake of it.

But the fact that every other country allows it isn't an argument in and of itself, right? I agree. If everyone is wrong, I couldn't care less about what others are doing and it would definitely not be a good idea to imitate them.

But the thing is, they don't seem to be wrong in this particular case.

If something was to make flying more dangerous, I'd definitely be against it.

And let me be really clear: aviation security is obviously incredibly important. As an air travel expert, and more importantly as co-founder of Flytrippers, a flight deals website, I make a living from the aviation industry... so if something was to make flying more dangerous, I'd definitely be against it.

But the fact is that allowing small knives on planes really isn't the end of the world.

Having taken over 50 flights in the past two years alone (with a majority of them being in countries where knives are allowed onboard), I haven't been more at risk than if knives were banned. And you won't be either, now that this new policy takes effect in Canada.

Airlines currently serve meals with metal knives in first class. And they have for numerous years.

Think about it. There isn't a huge difference between small knife blades and what airlines give passengers at meal times... and everything else that is already available to passengers on planes.

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You can already bring scissors and screwdrivers if they are shorter than six centimetres. Are knives really more dangerous than scissors?

You could even argue that plenty of other things allowed on planes could potentially be as dangerous as knives: disposable razors, nail clippers, tweezers — even a ballpoint pen could potentially serve as a weapon — and none of those are banned.

And to be completely honest, tons of people probably already bring knives aboard, anyways. In 2015, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report found that theTransportation Security Administration failed to detect a whopping 95 per cent of security tests. Yes, you read that right. The TSA only detected five per cent of knives, guns and other prohibited items during a series of trials. And they haven't gotten much better in recent tests.

Sure, that was in the U.S., and I cannot find any data as to whether Canadian security officials are doing any better or not. It's irrelevant, since a huge portion of flights in Canada originate in the U.S., anyway.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

So small knives on planes aren't a threat. These small knives are already allowed on every single flight from Europe to Canada.

And when I first wrote about the lifting of the restrictions on my website, a lot of the comments from those who disagreed with the new policy referenced how shampoos were less dangerous than knives. Well, shampoos, sure. But bombs that can be easily made with sufficient quantities of liquids (that can be easily camouflaged in shampoo bottles) are infinitely more dangerous than knives.

You will never break through the cabin door with a knife blade that measures less than six centimeters. You can however blow the plane out of the air with the right liquids. The comparison is highly flawed.

The point is that aligning Canadian policy regarding small knife blades with international policies will not compromise our safety in the air. When you look at it rationally, there is no reason to believe that your next flight will be any more dangerous than the last one. I myself have dozens more flights already planned and I would encourage you to keep travelling and exploring the world if you want to do so — even with this new policy now being in effect.

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