The News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

09 April 2010

TSA Says You Can Keep your iPad, Kindle, or Netbook in Your Bag

On Monday, this column discussed airline travel issues related to the new iPad device from Apple, and suggested that it didn't make sense to treat it like a laptop and take it out for separate screening. It looks like the TSA agrees with On Tuesday, an article in the TSA's blog stated that electronics smaller than the standard laptop could stay in your carry on bag or carrying case and does not have to be screened separately by their x-ray machines at the security checkpoint.

The TSA blog article emphasized that TSA security officers may still give your bag or electronic device a secondary screening, so be prepared to take out your iPad or other device if asked. Although all TSA screeners are regularly informed about policy changes, some TSA screeners may not be aware of this new policy about smaller electronics, so don't be too upset if you still get asked to remove them.

What can you keep in your carry on?
The TSA blog article stated that the following types of devices can be kept in your bag: netbook computers, laptop computers in a checkpoint friendly laptop bag, iPads, Kindles, Noes, Nooks, and Sony Readers. This also implies that cell phones, Blackberries, personal DVD players, iPods, iPhones, PDAs, electronic cameras, and handheld computer games can also stay in the bag.

What do you have to take out for separate screening?
The TSA article listed the following items that must be taken out for separate screening: regular size laptops; video game consoles such as those from Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo; full sized DVD players, video cameras that use cassettes, and other larger electronic devices. For the large game consoles, the TSA implied that you should take out the large CPU type unit for separate screening. Presumably accessories such as the the handheld controllers can stay in your bag.

What is the difference between a netbook and a laptop?
While opinions vary on what is and what isn't a netbook, in general it is a small laptop computer with a diagonal screen size of less than 12 inches (25.4 cm). The typical netbook also doesn't have an internal CD/DVD drive, so if your laptop has one, it probably isn't a netbook.

About checkpoint friendly bags
If you intend to use a "checkpoint friendly" laptop bag for your full size laptop, make sure to check that:
  • It has a designated laptop-only section that you can lay flat on the X-ray belt

  • There are no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on-top of the laptop-only section

  • There are no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section

  • There is nothing in the laptop compartment other than the laptop

  • You have completely unfolded your bag so that there is nothing above or below the laptop-only section, allowing the bag to lie flat on the X-ray belt
TSA will not approve or endorse any bag design or manufacturer. TSA will only allow laptops to stay in bags through screening if they provide a clear and unobstructed X-ray image of the laptop.

More baggage advice
Items prohibited and restricted by the TSA
Baggage basics
Carry on baggage tips
Top baggage tips


  1. Since there are no real definitions of "standard" or "small" laptops, as described in the article, does the TSA plan on defining anything other than their "intentions"?

    I am so sick of being held-up at airport screening because some Tray Stacker Agency joker decides to arbitrarily X-ray everything ad nauseum, when I can see the other line just blow by.

    I travel frequently, with almost the same gear, and I am always amazed at what they want to scrutinize and what they do not. For example, I am about 50/50 with my laptop bag. It's a Tumi T-pass bag and I NEVER put anything other than my laptop in the laptop compartment. However, I was told on several occasions to remove the laptop (a small Lenovo X-series) before it was even x-rayed.

  2. I really feel that you should be happy with all the extra security. So that you or your family are safe and all make it home. People make me so mad by talking about this security being a bad thing but when the plane blows up everyone wants to sue.... think about this......

  3. I didn't need to remove my Kindle at SFO however I needed to take it out of my bag at the Paris CDG airport.I additionally had a great deal of trouble at CDG with a puzzle atlas game given to me for my grand-son.It appeared that the puzzle pieces were magnetic and the security guy needed to open the gift to verify it was Ok....pftttttttt.Then again we didn't need to remove our shoes or my spouse's cinch at CDG airport security.
    @Hazel Arnold.

  4. The sign I saw as of late specified that they need you to take the laptop out so they can check whether the electronics have been messed around with.I'm not by any stretch of the imagination astute to the hiring guidelines of TSA agents,however my estimate is not very many of them would have any clue about whether a few electronics have been messed with past something completely self-evident,in the same way as the all electronics being gutted out.Hmmm... makes me we need to get an old laptop,gut it out and after that experience just to see what they do.
    unlimited kindle hidden object games