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New Protocol for Laptops

Carol Sottili

Good news for road warriors. As of this past Saturday (Aug. 16), you no longer had to remove your laptop from its bag when going through airport security. But you probably had to invest in a new bag to meet the requirements.

In order to be considered checkpoint friendly, the bag needs:
* A designated laptop-only section.
* The laptop-only section to completely unfold to lay flat on the X-ray belt.
* No metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on top of the laptop-only section.
* No pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section.
* Nothing packed in the laptop-only section except the laptop.

The TSA is not endorsing any particular manufacturer, saying it expects the majority of the new bags that meet the standards to be available for purchase soon. One company, Pathfinder Luggage, is taking preorders. There are a few bags currently on the market that meet the standards, according to the TSA, including sleeve-like carrying cases without pockets or zippers. Basically, the bags "must provide a clear and unobstructed X-ray image of the laptop."

By Carol Sottili |  August 18, 2008; 7:22 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili
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Carol, good stuff here -- it's been a nightmare traveling with my laptop for the past few years. And where have all the bloggers gone? Are you the only doing it now? (Which is fine by me!!!!!!)

Posted by: BizTraveler | August 18, 2008 12:18 PM

Don't count on TSA personnel to actually recognize this new policy. I flew yesterday, and the airport security checkpoint had a very helpful TSA video describing exactly how laptops, videogames, certain camcorders, etc. were to be completely removed from bags and placed in separate trays. If a TSA person doesn't realize that a bag is fine, you'll still have to take out the computer.

I frequently saw something similar before TSA actually required all shoes to be removed - I always wore sandals or other "airport-friendly" shoes that obviously could not contain anything of concern, but some screeners would still demand that all shoes should be removed. If an individual screener decides to be more stringent, you don't have much choice but to comply - or to be selected for secondary screening.

Posted by: adub | August 18, 2008 12:24 PM

Until we get real sensible security rules instead of all the nonsense we have to put up with now this sort of "new" regulation is just putting lipstick on a pig. The TSA-bots will just keep on doing whatever they darn well please on their little power-trips no matter what the rules actually say anyway.

How hard is it to put your laptop in the little tray and then put it back in your bag? For people who travel every day maybe it is worth it, but for the occasional traveler I think most people will save their money.

Posted by: Glenn | August 18, 2008 1:50 PM

Until the TSA stops confiscating laptops (and cameras and cell phones) this new bag for laptops is a non-starter. I may not be travelling overseas anytime soon, but I am already thinking about how to handle TSA when they want to see my vacation photos (FYI: it's none of their fu@%ing business).

Posted by: Beth | August 18, 2008 3:26 PM

Wrong, Beth. I agree that your and my electronics are nobody's business, but this isn't a TSA issue. TSA isn't confiscating electronics; Customs / Immigration is. The rules are different because Customs / Immigration has more search and seizure power (because you are technically still out of the country before you clear customs). There is a huge difference between a metal-detector TSA screening and a customs search.

Posted by: adub | August 18, 2008 6:44 PM

Just got a press release from Solo Cases ( It also plans to come out with a line of TSA-friendly laptop cases by fall. They'll range in price from $30 to $60.

Posted by: Carol Sottili | August 19, 2008 3:19 PM

What reasons does customs give for confiscating electronics, they were purchased abroad?

Posted by: Jim | August 21, 2008 8:17 AM

Customs currently has pretty much unlimited power to search and seize electronics - see for more info.

Posted by: adub | August 22, 2008 4:03 PM

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