Electronics at Airport Security Checks: Do I Remove My Laptop?

The official TSA website says that a standard screening includes taking out your laptop and placing it in a separate bin from your liquids, bag, jacket, and other items. But what about netbooks? Or if you have a bag that should allow for x-ray screening? What about in other countries?

The rules are fairly clear when it comes to traveling with laptops at airport security. They must come out of your bag and go into their own bin.


The only exception is if you have TSA Pre-Check, a US government program that allows you to go through security while keeping your laptop, coat and shoes.

There are also “checkpoint friendly” laptop bags and briefcases on the market that claim to allow your laptop to stay in its case while going through security. It should have its own compartment for the laptop without excess pockets, zippers, snaps, or buckles.

I haven’t had much trouble with being asked to remove them from my bag for screening, but there doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule for these smaller electronics.

Phones, Tablets and E-Readers

E-readers don’t seem to be considered as the same category as laptops and shouldn’t be required to be removed according to the official TSA blog. The same goes for handheld gaming systems.

Phones, whether smartphones or basic cell phones, should be taken out of your pockets and tucked into your bag for safekeeping along with your ID and boarding pass. You don’t need to carry it with you through the scanner or metal detector.

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