Air Canada returns steel knives to its flights - for executive class only
August 29, 2005
TORONTO (CP)—Starting in two weeks, Air Canada's blueblood customers will be able to quit a practice most despise: using plastic knives to carve into slabs of beef tenderloin.
Metal knives will be allowed back on Air Canada effective Sept. 15, three years after Transport Canada and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration approved the measure.
Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Air Canada and other carriers banned metal knives while stepping up their security measures, although they have still offered metal forks and spoons.
While most passengers would acknowledge that airlines were wise to crack down on potential weapons in the wake of the terror attacks, that didn't make it any easier for Air Canada flight attendants, who have had to endure countless complaints over the past four years because of the knife ban.
“I'd say (that), on overseas routes, I get at least one complaint every other flight,” said Heather Tregaskas, an Air Canada flight attendant with 37 years' experience.
“You just get customers who have this nice meal and they feel like they're eating with McDonald's utensils,” she said. “There's not a lot the flight attendants can do. We just smile. What can you say?”
Vanessa Vermette, a spokesperson for Transport Canada, said that the government lifted its restriction on metal knives in September 2002, although it still insists that airlines offer knives with dull blades and rounded tips. Steel forks have never been banned.
“We've determined that the rounded tips do not pose an in-flight safety issue,” Vermette said.
Passengers are still banned from bringing knives on board flights, she said.
Air Canada, however, plans to re-introduce metal knives in first-class cabins only.
Laura Cooke, a spokesperson for the airline, said the move was consistent with “our executive class offerings” because Air Canada had offered metal knives just to those first-class customers before the attack. Hospitality-class customers have always received plastic utensils, she said.
Cooke said that after delays in trying to introduce metal knives on all its flights, the airline decided to start offering them on flights within continental North America.
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