The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is lifting its ban on small knives, novelty bats and some sporting sticks in carry-on baggage.

From April 25, airline passengers going through US airports will be allowed to take onboard small Swiss Army-type knives provided the blade is no longer than 2.36 inches, or 6 centimeters, and does not have a locking fixed blade or a molded grip. This will bring US airport carry-on security rules in line with European Union rules.

Bats weighing less than 24 ounces and no longer than 24 inches will also be allowed onboard, as will lacrosse sticks, hockey sticks, pool cues, ski poles and up to two golf clubs.

Announcing the rule change Tuesday at the 22nd AVSEC World conference in New York, TSA administrator John Pistole said allowing these items onboard would align the US with ICAO and European standards and allow screeners to focus on the highest priority threat—non-metallic explosive devices.

Pistole said that in the last three months of 2012 at Los Angeles International Airport alone, an average of 47 small knives of the type that will be permitted under the new rules were seized every day by screeners.

“Frankly, I don’t want TSA agents to be delayed by these,” Pistole said.

He said razor blades and box cutters would still be banned from carry-on. The 9/11 terrorists used box cutters to kill pilots and flight attendants on the aircraft they hijacked. “There is just too much emotion involved with those,” Pistole said.

And, citing concerns raised by US pilots, flight attendants and marshal agents, certain types of small knives used primarily for hunting or as weapons will also continue to be prohibited.

Separately, European Commission director for security and policy coordination Marjeta Jager told the conference Tuesday that she was committed to phasing out the carry-on liquids restrictions, beginning with a move from January 2014 that would allow duty-free liquids to be transferred across flights.

“The restriction on liquids must go. It was a measure we took in 2006 as a temporary solution and it has taken too long to apply technologies to lift this restriction,” Jager said.

Jager said she also wants to see one-stop security screening for transatlantic transfer passengers. “We need to share a common vision and a common approach to security,” she said. “Common sense is what we need now.”

Photo: TSA administrator John Pistole