Last week the TSA announced that travelers flying with “checkpoint friendly” bags won’t have to remove their laptops to get through security. The plan is meant to make airport security less inconvenient and protect laptops from damage.

The use of checkpoint friendly bags won’t do either, and in fact will cause you more inconvenience if you decide to bring one.

  • It Counts As A Carry On – Any checkpoint friendly bags are still regarded by most airlines as carry on luggage. Most airlines limit you to one or will charge you for bringing two.
  • You could put the laptop bag in your larger carry on, but that defeats the purpose of having a checkpoint friendly bag.
  • You Can’t Really Pack Much Else – Checkpoint friendly bags must “have a dedicated section for the laptop that can lay flat on an X-ray belt; no snaps, zippers or buckles can cover the laptop; and there can be nothing in the laptop compartment other than the computer”. You’ll have to bring your charger, USB drives, and books in separate luggage.
  • You May Still Be Searched – The TSA will still make you take your laptop out of the bag if it does not present a clear and unobstructed image (i.e. from zippers) of the machine. They may also ask you to remove your laptop to test it for bomb particles.
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  • The Bags Are Expensive – Many of the TSA-approved designs will run you around $200 and are hard to find.

  • The Design Could Change At Any Time – The TSA, for a variety of reasons may disapprove this design or change the requirements leaving you with a very expensive useless laptop bag.

All it would take is someone to try to abuse the system for the TSA to scrap the idea. You’ve seen what happened to our loafers and soda bottles after Richard Reid’s attempted shoe-bombing and the planned liquid bomb in London. Also, these are only TSA-checkpoint friendly bags. Travelers going overseas will likely have to remove their laptops from any bag.

Unless you’re planning a day business trip, the smart traveler will stick to a single carry on bag that can hold not only your laptop, but your emergency hygiene kit and shoes as well.