Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why do Laptops Have to be Removed When Tablets can Stay in the Bag?

Laptop***Update -- 4/11/12*** 

Why can an 11” Laptop Stay in and a 13” Laptop has to Come out? 

I’ve read where some people are asking why an 11” laptop can stay in and why a 13” laptop has to come out? 

As with any policy or procedure, we have to set general guidelines so passengers know how to prepare for security and  our officers  know what procedures they need to follow.

For laptops that need to come out of your bag, we describe them as a “standard size” laptop – which loosely translates into approximately 12x14” or larger. We’re not measuring every laptop that comes through the checkpoint but that is the general dimensions of what we consider to be standard size.  Also, the larger the laptop, the more stuff that can be hidden in it. So if your laptop is approximately 12x14” or larger it must be removed from the bag, but remember, if you choose to leave the smaller ones in your bag, our officers still need to be able to see clearly on the X-ray what else is in the bag with your laptop, so there is always a chance they might ask you to remove it to give them that clearer view.  ~ Bob Burns 


Why do Laptops Have to be Removed When Tablets can Stay in the Bag? 

I saw some headlines today stating that TSA refuses to explain why laptops have to be removed and tablet computers do not. This kind of baffled me, because a post has been up on the subject since April of 2010. Most of the post explains what can stay in and what has to come out, but we give a  reason why towards the end:
“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.”
Basically, tablet computers, netbooks, and e-readers are less dense than your typical laptop, so it’s easier for our X-ray operator to inspect your bag. However, larger laptops and game consoles appear more dense and need to be removed in order for the X-ray operator to get a good look at your bag. With that said, there are still times that tablet computers, netbooks, and e-readers have to come out. If our Officer can’t get a good look at your bag or if they see something out of the ordinary, they’ll have to remove it. 

The larger the laptop, the more stuff you can hide in it. Items have been found concealed in laptops in the past, so we have to be able to get a good look at them.. Our officers have about 3 seconds to make a call in order to keep lines moving, so the less clutter, the easier it is to clear your bag and get you on your way.

Now to get down to solving that dad-blasted Easter Island mystery…  

Bob Burns  
TSA Blog Team