TSA Allows Carry-on Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Cases and Backpacks

A woman at an airport check-in.
••• Andrew Bret Wallis / Getty Images

Tired of pulling your laptop and other electronic gear out of your backpack or laptop bag? TSA allows laptops to stay inside an approved carry-on checkpoint friendly bags provided they meet some very specific criteria. If your gear is packed properly, you won't have to pull your laptop out when going through the security line at the airport at all, saving you time and potentially preventing damage to your computer too.

Here are a few suggestions including a checkpoint friendly briefcase, a rolling briefcase, and a backpack.

TSA Guidelines for Checkpoint Friendly Bags

Here's what the Transportations Security Administration says about checkpoint friendly bags.

For a bag to be considered checkpoint friendly it should meet the following standards:

  • It must have a designated laptop-only section
  • The laptop-only section completely unfolds to lie 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 should be nothing packed in the laptop-only section other than the computer itself.

Additionally, the back must be packed appropriately or a security agent may ask a traveler to take their laptop out of the bag anyway. In this case, the notebook computer should be in its properly designated laptop sleeve completely on its own with no other items to obstruct the view of the x-ray machine. To find out more, visit the TSA's website regarding checkpoint friendly bags.

Now that you know what the TSA expects, here are three options for frequent travelers who want to avoid taking their computers out of their bags. 

Mobile Edge ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly & ECO Backpack

The Mobile Edge ScanFast Checkpoint & Eco Friendly Backpack has a large section that zips open, allowing the bag to lie flat on a TSA conveyor belt. The bag includes an integrated mesh pocket that provides easy viewing of a laptop, or anything else you're taking through an airport security station. The two outer pockets hold everything from a smartphone or tablet, to noise-cancelling earphones, or books, magazines, and newspapers that you might want to read while traveling. There is also plenty of room inside the bag to store just about anything else you might need to have with you while inflight.

The bag is even made from a special material that uses 30% less energy to create and reduces emissions by more than 60% as well. 

Samsonite Leather Checkpoint Friendly Brief

The Samsonite Leather Checkpoint Friendly Brief is a leather briefcase with a multi-compartment design that includes a separate laptop computer compartment; a large zippered center pocket for books, binders, files, portfolios, and reports; and a front zippered organizer section that contains pen holders, a separate zipped pocket for keeping valuables safe and secure, credit card slots, and a slide pocket for designed specifically for a mobile phone. The case has a padded, removable, and adjustable shoulder strap, as well as top carry handles for added comfort and versatility.

Price: $149.99

Travelon Anti-Theft React Computer/Messenger Bag

Travelon has been making TSA-friendly computer bags since they were first announced, but over the years their products have continued to evolve. The Anti-Theft React messenger bag for instance is not only checkpoint certified, it also has RFID signal blocking pockets, a tethered key-clip complete with an LED light, as well as front zip pockets and a water bottle holder. Additionally, it has locking pockets for added security, as well as an adjustable shoulder strap that incorporates cut-proof materials that make it nearly impossible to steal.

This means that you can slip through security quickly and easily, while also preventing thieves from swiping your gear while traveling.

These are just a very small sampling of the options that are available for TSA-friendly laptop bags these days. There are literally hundreds of other models on the market, and it is highly likely that your favorite backpack or messenger bag company is making one too.

If you travel with much frequency, having one of these bags can save you some time and effort while passing through a checkpoint. Not only does it mean you don't have to take your laptop out of your bag, it means that you won't have to worry about accidentally dropping it on the hard floor of the airport. Simply place your laptop case on the conveyor belt at security, zip open the laptop pocket, and proceed through the scanner. On the other side, you zip up the pocket once again, collect your belongs, and continue on your way.

It doesn't get much simpler than that.