Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Traveling with E-readers, Netbooks, and Other Small Gadgets (Including the iPad)

E-readers, Net Books and other small gadgets are becoming more and more popular for travelers to bring along in their carry-ons. (iPads, Kindles™, Neos, Nooks™, Sony® Readers™ etc.)

Not only are they essential to those who need to stay connected and work or study on the go, but they are also fantastic time killers, which makes these gadgets extremely popular carry-on items. I’ve read many a post from people wondering if these items should be treated like a laptop and removed from their carry-on bags for checkpoint screening.

Great question! Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple.

It’s important to remember, however, that our officers are trained to look for anomalies to help keep air travel safe, and if something needs a closer look, it will receive secondary screening. The key to avoiding bag searches is keeping the clutter down. The less clutter you have in your bag, the less likely it will be searched.

Only electronics the size of a standard laptop or larger (for example Playstation®, Xbox™, or Nintendo®), full-size DVD players, and video cameras that use video cassettes must be removed from their carrying cases and submitted separately for x-ray screening. Removing larger electronics helps us get a better look at them and also allows us to get a better look at the contents of your bag. If you have a TSA "checkpoint friendly" laptop bag, you can leave your laptop in.)

So, kick back and enjoy your gadgets and all they have to offer. We’ve come a long way since the classic time killers such as Mad Libs and Wooly Willy.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

224 comments:

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Brugan said...

There's always someone who doesn't get the word. Unfortunately, that someone usually has an attitude.

When clearing inbound customs/security in Atlanta this past Saturday 3/05 I was told specifically that the "no removal" policy only applied to iPods and iPhones...ALL computers regardless of size must be removed!

I mentioned that I had asked TSA supervisors at Reno and Houston Intercontinental about this within the past 10 days and had been told that only full-sized laptops needed to be removed. I was told (with that familiar TSA attitude of, "You're acting like a jerk, but I'll humor you because I have to" that, "We're Atlanta, we're bigger so we know the REAL rules".

No wonder frequent travelers don't have a lot of respect for the process. The inconsistancy drives us nuts!

NP said...

Any follow up training with all TSA staffed airports?? I'm STILL being told at SOME airports to pull iPads out of my bag.. .At these same airports other ignore and leave them and and ask my why I took mine out. Can the "greeters" in the lines please make up their mind and be trained with up to date info PLEASE.

This airport to airport inconsistency is nuts. PLEASE address this.

Anonymous said...

The info here doesn't apply at Newark. I just went thru the screening 10 minutes ago and one of the female TSA screeners was shouting at everyone (all 12 of us at 4:30am on Good Friday): "Everything 'electronic' must be in a separate bin for screening. That includes IPads and e-readers.". And as every citizen who pays TSA salaries knows, if you dare to question one of these brilliant people, you get the full treatment. I used to show TSA website printouts - doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

Just went through DCA. The screener said the website and blog are incorrect - netbooks and iPads have to be removed for screening.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure blogger bob has heard enough of these but i'll add another.

i purchased an 11" macbook air right when it came out (10/2010) and the FAA approved it to be left it the bag.

i've tested it on at least 16 security screenings now and i find that i've had to remove it numerous times (about half of the time). as blogger bob says, if they need a secondary closer look they can ask for it. in general i take no issue with this if a bag is cluttered and they want to be sure. (the delay is however annoying)

however, at the Pittsburgh airport, they do NOT seem to understand the rules about "netbooks". there is one person that has asked me 4 separate times to take it out. and she says all computers must come out. everytime i explain that the FAA has approved this one (macbook air 11") but she ignores it.(if she said bag is cluttered, then fine, but she acts as if there is no such rule/guideline). the guy who handled things pointed me to a specific person to talk to about it, someone higher up in TSA but still on the floor at the screening (in the booth). i was stunned by our conversation:

i said, i understand that a second screening of the laptop can be asked for and that it'll be run through again, but am i not correct that netbooks (or small computers 11" or less) are not required to be taken out of the bag.

his response was, "all laptops need to be taken out. always"

at that point another TSA person started to pipe into support his comment, but i cut him off and said, "see, now, there is a terminology issue here. you keep using the word laptops. i understand that laptops need to be taken out. but my understanding is that there is a different rule for netbooks. is that not the case.

without changing the very disgruntled look on his face for my being persistent and questioning, he basically said no and that they were all the same.

i asked if he were sure. he said yes. i said, okay well your information conflicts with information i've received elsewhere. i asked again, "are you sure." yes he replied.

either he's being disingenuous, ignorant, or lying.

i think next time i might bring out a printed copy of whatever FAA rule there is out there.

i understand i had higher expectations about how these rules would be followed. i'm okay with the second screening if it's asked for, though it's terribly annoying to know that you are further delaying people from getting through security. but to have a higher up TSA guy (i.e., someone in the know) basically tell me i'm wrong when i've read so much to the contrary blows my mind. he said this in front of a group of 10 other TSA people.

not to mention i've had a few TSA people pull out my macbook air and make the specific comment, "oh, this doesn't need to come out."

i dunno, my expectations were set too high, but i'm not sure it's a good policy for the TSA if it's difficult at all to tell what the screener is looking at.

SF in pittburgh

Anonymous said...

When over 12000 laptop are stolen every week WHILE being screened right off the conveyor belt, I wish someone at TSA would explain why we need to take them out of our bags, out of the their cases and display them out in the open so every would-be thief can see them too, but that it's fine to leave everything else in my backpack. Airports have become the BestBuy for laptop thieves.

M.O. said...

Juneau, Alaska requires a regular-sized Kindle be removed from the bag before going through the X-ray. If this is not required, how can I decline to do this and not get in trouble?

Jack D said...

Any update if we need to pull the ipad out of the bag? I just went on a flight and they did not check it in security.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday in Terminal 3 of ORD, at the G concourse checkpoint, my husband was told to remove his netbook from his very small and certainly uncluttered carryon bag. This is the same checkpoint he went through last month and was told he did not have to remove the netbook. When we told the screener this, and that we had just flown through our home airport without removing it, her answer was "Only Ipads don't have to be removed. What you have is a laptop." The most frustrating part of any trip is getting through TSA. Using inconsistancy as a layer of security is understandble, but this issue of laptops vs. netbooks seems to be something different. I guess from here on out, we will remove the netbook but I know we'll be told "you didn't have to remove that" by some helpful TSA agent. After more than 30 years of traveling, most of them as an airline employee and wife of a pilot, I'd just like TSA employees to know that many of us aren't as untraveled or inexperienced as they think we are, even though acting that way seems to be the best way to get through security.

Anonymous said...

Here we are 18 months later and the TSA folks in Denver didn't know what a netbook was, let alone that it was allowed to stay in my bag. So much for rolling out the word... :-(

Anonymous said...

I've had my fair issues with the TSA but with something so large there are going to be inconsistencies. If you don't like what the TSA does then take the bus! Flying is a privilege and if someone has to take their stupid computer out of their bag so that I can fly safer then so be it. Stop whining take the new book out and keep the line moving!

Shannon said...

Just got asked if I had a laptop in my bag at John Wayne Airport (SNA). Told them I had an 11" MacBook Air, which I understood as counting as a netbook. TSA agent told me only iPads could be left in bags. Would have thought it'd be standardized by now...

Joe said...

I went through Burbank Airport and Oakland Airport during the holidays with my 8.9 inch netbook. Both times, the TSA Agent instructed me that the netbook had to be taken out. I know the agents have a lot one their plates, but I hope this issue gets resolved. Thank you for your time.

Dainen Penta said...

There is NO consistency on this among TSA agents at least in my experience. I expect TSA at smaller airports to be unfamiliar with this rule, but have found myself time and time again to have to pull my MacBook Air 11" OUT of my carryon in Seattle. Someone needs to do a better job of standardizing training and education for TSA agents.

Anonymous said...

I was kind of excited to find this blog and to finally not have to take out my computer during travel. Today though, when I tried going through TSA in Puerto Rico, I was told my 10 inch netbook needed to be taken out. When I told the guy that there was a policy where a netbook could be left in the bag, he very defensively commented that my bag was too cluttered since there was a book and a charger in it. I'm pretty sure at this point that TSA policy is really just based on each individual screener's discretion.

Walt Dexter said...

iPad policy is definitely not understood, assuming this blog post is still correct. I went from Chicago Midway to San Juan and back on AirTran over New Year 2011/2012 and at one of the TSA encounters they were standing there telling everyone to take out their iPads and other tablets.

I do have to thank TSA for doing a better job with people who have implanted metal than the pre-TSA team did. My wife has a replacement hip and knee and is always treated professionally, and usually in a friendly and understanding manner.

Sharon said...

Hi I might have overlooked this particular question so if I did and it was answered previously let me apologize. My family and I are military and we are scheduled to pcs/move overseas in the upcoming months. We are a family of five. Is it possible to take an iPad, iPad 2, a laptop, 2 Nintendo DS XL's, a regular Nintendo DS, a couple of iPhones, IPod touch, and a regular mp3 in a carry on or purse? Since we will be moving we wanted to make sure that the kids had everything since it will take several weeks before our house hold goods would arrive. Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Las Vegas agents were requiring removal of all electronics from bags. iPads, headphones, phones, etc. for everyone. No sense to it and seems more likely to result in valuable items getting lost or maybe stolen.

Aleks G said...

Can we take standard size laptop and tablet with us? Because I would need to take both, but I don't want to have any troubles.

James said...

Hi,

Since we together as a family of 3, each having a laoptop each and 1 DVD player. Do we need to put all these 4 electronic items in separate trays for screening ? Or can I just put all of them in one tray to avoid the hassle in long queues .

GSOLTSO said...

James asked - "Since we together as a family of 3, each having a laoptop each and 1 DVD player. Do we need to put all these 4 electronic items in separate trays for screening"

Currently the screening protocols ask that each one of these items be in a bin by themselves, with nothing on top of them, or below them. I hope that this answered your question James!

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

TSA agents at Ft Lauderdale don't know about this policy either. Had to listen to a sermon on laptop inspection from the agent even though my item was a 10" netbook.

Scott Hartranft said...

Hi Bob,

3+ Years after this policy, and I have been happy to see some improvement. However, the ambiguous nature of the policy post is still vague. Some of my items get rescanned, some don't, and TSA groups from different areas (even in the same airport!) don't have a clear definition on what to take out.

This is one case where I would really like a clear definition on what you want out. More than 12" screen? More than 1" thick? Has a non-removeable fixed-hinge from screen to keyboard? Those 3 statements would make it very clear what you want and what you don't.

I think most people are quite content with doing a re-screening if the TSA agent needs it for whatever reason. But please be clear to us what you want in the first place, so we can help you (and ourselves).

Scott Hartranft said...

Hi Bob,

3+ Years after this policy, and I have been happy to see some improvement. However, the ambiguous nature of the policy post is still vague. Some of my items get rescanned, some don't, and TSA groups from different areas (even in the same airport!) don't have a clear definition on what to take out.

This is one case where I would really like a clear definition on what you want out. More than 12" screen? More than 1" thick? Has a fixed-hinge? Those 3 statements would make it very clear what you want and what you don't.

I think most people are quite content with doing a re-screening if the TSA agent needs it for whatever reason. But please be clear to us what you want in the first place, so we can help you (and ourselves).

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