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jul 02 2008

Gear: Laptop bags that will pass the TSA test

This fall, it may become possible to pass through security without unpacking your laptop—if you have the right bag. The TSA's laptop initiative, begun earlier this year, called on manufacturers to make prototypes and then submit them for testing. Such "checkpoint friendly" bags should be on the market by early October, according to the New York Times.

The problem with current bags is that many don't allow the X-rays to get a good view. What's more, things like computer cords and other paraphernalia make it hard to separate the dense laptop from whatever else is in the case. The new bags meet TSA guidelines by either having a fold-down section that separates the laptop or a "stand-alone protective sleeve that contains no extra clutter and can be readily viewed through the scanner," as NYT columnist Joe Sharkey puts it.

Jaunted thinks the new laptop bag plan is "stupid" because the manufacturers won't be able to label their new bags with anything more explicit than "checkpoint friendly" (the agency won’t allow for a "TSA Approved" sticker).

Too harsh! I say the new bags may actually be useful. But only if the manufacturers, which include Targus as well as Pathfinder, manage to brand their bags in a way that makes it absolutely obvious that they've passed all of the TSA's little rules. Of course, the TSA will also have to make sure that its staff can easily recognize what's new about these bags and let them pass through the X-ray with their precious laptop cargo intact.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.


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