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

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010
tablet

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,

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Jon on

i hope this gets standardized across airports. i was traveling out of LAX a couple weeks back and left my (regular sized) kindle in my backpack with just clothes on top, so it should have been a pretty unobstructed view.

the x-ray screener asked if i had a kindle after looking at the monitor and i said yes, i did, and he told me next time i'd have to take it out next time. i'd traveled with it several times before and was never instructed to do so (specifically out of SFO and LHR).

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

Jon said... i hope this gets standardized across airports.
April 6, 2010 9:41 PM

-----------------------

Hi Jon. We are also refreshing the workorce on this. If you run into any problems, please let us know.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Marie on

The TSA officers always make me take my Kindle out of my bag. It's a Kindle DX, which is larger than a standard Kindle but quite a bit smaller than a laptop. I now just take it out to avoid the "what is that thing, a hard drive?" type questions.

I think the ongoing battle the TSA faces is communicating these policies to the TSA agents working at the airport.

On my last flight I was scolded by an agent for placing my shoes (a pair of ballet flats) in the bin alongside my small purse. "No shoes in the bins!!" All of the bins in front of mine and those that came after contained shoes, but mine were not allowed. *Sigh*

I work for the Feds myself, and do appreciate this blog. But I know that if employees at my agency ever treated the public with such capricious disdain, they'd be disciplined.

Anyway, thanks for the info, and good luck getting the word out to the TSA agents on the ground.

Submitted by Kristina on

What is a standard size laptop? Can I leave my netbook (smaller than most ebooks) in my bag?

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

Kristina, your netbook can stay in your bag.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

Marie,

Sorry you had a bad experience. You should never be scolded for anything at the checkpoint. If it happens again, please use our Got Feedback Program so we can address the problem.

Thanks for your comment.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

With all respect, Bob (and I do mean it) ... wouldn't it make more sense to do the refresher with the TSA workforce before announcing it here?

Submitted by WendyLou on

Question on laptop bags. I just bought a neoprene sleeve for my laptop. By itself it would be checkpoint friendly, as it's basically a condom for my laptop. Can I leave the charger and my cables in the pocket or do I need to move them to another bag, like my backpack?

Submitted by RB on

Blogger Bob said...
Marie,

Sorry you had a bad experience. You should never be scolded for anything at the checkpoint. If it happens again, please use our Got Feedback Program so we can address the problem.

Thanks for your comment.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 6, 2010 10:08 PM
................
Why not train your employees to do their job properly first instead of putting the task of watching your empoyees on the shoulders of travelers. While doing that train your supervisors to note poor performance of the workforce and use discipline for those who need it. Firing should be an early corrective tool!

As far as E-Readers I have traveled through DFW, PBI and LAS with my reader and have not taken it out of my carry on. So on that point good job.

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

@WendyLou - From the way you have described your bag, it sounds like a winner. Just make sure there's nothing on top or underneath the laptop. (you should put all of the cables etc. in a different bag)

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

What are the procedures are for clearing harmless medical devices detected by your strip search technology, Bob?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why bother letting you know? You don't care. This blog is a smokescreen to create an appearance of responsiveness while TSA gets more and more ridiculous.

Submitted by Shawn on

While I appreciate the difficult job faced by the TSA, I find most of the TSA's policies to be arbitrary and capricious, this one included.

There's a very challenging balancing act you face every day: how to allow the local TSA agents to exercise reasonable judgement without inviting discrimination or abuse.

The absurd liquids policy at least has the advantage of being specific: you can carry on *this* much liquid and no more. That's the essence of the policy.

Unfortunately, from time to time I get hassled not about the volume of liquid I'm carrying, but about the size and shape of the plastic bag I carry it in. I use a small, somewhat-rigid plastic case and usually carry exactly three small items in it: rewetting drops for my contact lenses, a small tube of toothpaste, and a small container of deodorant. Each item is less than three ounces, but from time-to-time, screeners object to the bag. (The bag itself confoms to the size requirements in the policy -- I've checked -- but its just not the typical bag).

By contrast, I once took a rather scary looking (but innocuous) item on board; I asked a TSA agent if there would be any problem getting it through security, and he said that as long as its not on the forbidden list, its okay.

I think the problem stems from the seemingly different standards, and an (apparent) lack of guiding principles from which a traveller could deduce the right thing to do.

The liquids policy is very specific, while the laptop policy is generalized with phrases like "standard sized laptops."

I believe it would be helpful if hte TSA undertook to "harmonize" all your policies to similar levels of detail, allowing similar levels of discretion by screeners.

AS a first step, may I suggest that you refine your policy to set the dimensions of metalic objects that can be carried on. Objective measurements can be supported or refuted by evidence, while things like "standard sized laptops" are just an invitation to conflict and inconsistency.

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

RB said... Why not train your employees to do their job properly first instead of putting the task of watching your empoyees on the shoulders of travelers.

RB Also said: As far as E-Readers I have traveled through DFW, PBI and LAS with my reader and have not taken it out of my carry on. So on that point good job. April 6, 2010 10:19 PM
----------------------

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.

If you or another passenger choose not to use Got Feedback or the TSA Contact Center, that's fine. It's just a tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.

And as to the last part of your comment, thanks for the kudos, RB!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Flack4RIC on

Thank you for getting this information up so quickly following the launch of the iPad.

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

@Jim Huggins - Yes, that would have made sense and that was our original plan. I actually had an e-reader post in the works for the workforce, but Forbes published an article today that created a lot of interest and we felt it would be best to message the public and the workorce now instead of staggering the two.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Isaac Newton on

Blogger Bob says:
Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases.
C'mon, Bob. Can't you just say "do not" need to be removed? Oh, no, actually you can't, because you go on with:
if something needs a closer look, it will receive secondary screening.
So like everything else, your policy boils down to "we want you to think this is the rule, but don't be surprised if we do something different."
Sure, whatever.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have been repeatedly told my netbook must be removed from my bag. Could you guys get your act together?

And I am still waiting to hear what procedures will be used to clear objects found in whole body imaging scans.

Submitted by Anonymous on

when in doubt, take it out.

Submitted by Erin De Santiago on

Interesting to read that netbooks should be able to stay in the luggage. My husband and I travel between Asia and the US constantly and have been told multiple times leaving LAX (both through Delta and Tom Bradley gates) that any size laptop MUST be taken out for scanning. I am flying back into the US next month so I will testing it on my flight outbound back to Asia.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Unfortunately I fully expect the 'official' policy to be applied based on the whims of the TSO doing the screening. Expecting anything else by the traveling public is wishful thinking

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...

"We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve. "

And yet, in the last two threads we find out that your officers don't seem to know the procedures for e-readers or declaring medical devices.

In my line of work, that level of performance is not acceptable or tolerated.

Submitted by Adrian on

Puppy post.

Are you going to talk about the TSA employee who was indicted for attempting to tamper with the selectee and no-fly databases?
http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/article/339185/former_tsa_analyst_charge...

You bragged when the selectee and no-fly lists were reduced in size. Are you going to discuss how they've doubled in size since the failed Christmas attack?
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/10/national/main6286899.shtml

Are you going to talk about how whole body imaging violates HIPAA by forcing people to disclose private medical information?
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/02/06/my-left-breast-put-fancy-tsa-sca...

If we really must have a puppy post on electronics screening, how about discussing how we can bring harmless home-made electronic devices through security.
http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/scot_peele.shtm

Submitted by RB on

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.

If you or another passenger choose not to use Got Feedback or the TSA Contact Center, that's fine. It's just a tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.

And as to the last part of your comment, thanks for the kudos, RB!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 6, 2010 10:36 PM

.............
Bob, comments on this blog and elsewhere would seem to indicate that TSA employees do not know their jobs, are not well trained, and make it up as they go.

As far as the Got Feed Back issue, I twice used the "Got Feedback" to report issues at two different airports, FLL and DFW.

The FLL issue was what I believed to be an attempted theft by a screener and the FSD at FLL covered that issue up.

The issue at DFW involved a couple of issues and I do not believe either were dealt with in any acceptable manner.

My opinion of the Got Feedback program is that it allows local airport officials to hide complaints from TSA senior managers.

Any complaint filed with TSA needs to have the complaint and resolution reviewed by an independent/ombudsman panel who understand the screening process and underlying operating procedures TSA works under for proper action.

Also TSA needs to use a secret shopper program to evaluate checkpoint procedures. This would be a very effective tool to understanding what is really going on at TSA checkpoints. The public could be enlisted to assist in this endeavor and I believe would be eager to evaluate their screening process.

And while on the subject, you have not posted several items I have submitted in recent days.

In order to understand what posting rule I have violated (none in my mind) I required feedback on why you have censored my postings, all of which qualify as protected political speech and violates my First Amendment Constitutional protections.

Submitted by Shelby Park on

Can you tell me where I can find a list of TSA "checkpoint friendly" laptop bags like you described in your post?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sadly, this post just illustrates how poorly run the TSA really is. The screeners at Boston have scolded me for not removing a Kindle from my carry on. When your own agents don't know such a simple policy, it undermines my confidence that they know how to detect an actual threat.

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Sadly, this post just illustrates how poorly run the TSA really is. The screeners at Boston have scolded me for not removing a Kindle from my carry on. When your own agents don't know such a simple policy, it undermines my confidence that they know how to detect an actual threat.

April 7, 2010 11:58 AM
................
Bob how does this support your claim that TSA employees are well trained?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Gotta laugh about this.

there is a thread going on right now over at Flyertalk with TSO's saying they should come out of the bag.

I guess this is just another example of the good training the TSA is doing..

Submitted by Li Ma Chicago on

I took my 10" netbook with me all the time when I travel inside the states. it seems like different TSA check points have different rules on searching the netbook. I think TSA needs to communicate and update their regulations with all the checkpoints nation wide.

Submitted by RB on

Conversation from another blog demonstrating that WBI Strip Searches are either not optional or TSA employees continue to demostrate their lack of quality training.

What say you Bob?

...........................
It is being used as "primary" screening at all airports that have them installed but you can still choose a pat-down, although they will not tell you this you need to request it. it is still better to check the day before your flight so you can follow this link to the TSA website.

http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/ima...echnology.shtm

Just scroll to the bottom and look for the "what are my options" section. With the economy currently in the crapper I don't think the Gov't will give anyone a reason not to fly. Until the economy rebounds...that is. Keep up the good fight.

"They have it at DCA...I asked for a pat down and was refused...*sighs* "

Submitted by Jessy Wu on

This is very interesting with the Apple iPad just came out. It's similar to the Kindle, but functionally, it's much complicate than it. So I hope TSA would treat it seriously as a laptop computer

Submitted by Anonymous on

You posters are unbelievably whiny - get over yourselves, it takes all of 20 seconds to take your laptop out and put it in a bin. Are you all really that lazy and self centered you can't contribute 20 seconds to the cause of safety on our airlines?

Personally, I'm against this new policy. If you can hide an explosive or other weapon inside of a laptop, surely you can do the same with a tablet or netbook. After announcing this policy change, be assured that some terrorist is out there right now, trying to figure it out. Good job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is a ridiculous policy. You need to define "size of a standard laptop". No two laptops are exactly the same size. That's the type of terrible policies the TSA has set which makes travelers feel unfairly singled out.

Submitted by CCEMT-P on

Blogger Bob said....

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.

If you or another passenger choose not to use Got Feedback or the TSA Contact Center, that's fine. It's just a tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.

And as to the last part of your comment, thanks for the kudos, RB!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

----------------------------

Uh huh riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight if my interactions with your "professional" colleagues then there is a ton of work to be done starting with proper customer service and attitude. then not to mention actually following what few rules are published on this site. IE if i present a HHS ID (which has a 10 year CBC, pysch eval and clearance above any Checkpoint TSO) i should not be asked if i have a Drivers License (which BTW in the state of texas is NOT a ID but rather a permit to operate a motor vehicle), when screeners at DCA, EWR, LGA, JFK, MIA, MCO, ORD, STL, LAS, LAX, SJC, and SFO haven't.


in my line of work if i acted the way TSA does i would be fired with prejudice, blacklisted from ever getting a job again (health-care), and probably lose my certification from the state and national bodies.

as for the Got Feedback, thats just a CYA sweep under the rug move. I have filed numerous (more then then supposed " only 5" received last year) complaints about attitude problems, violations of procedures, attempted theft, making terroristic threats against passengers. what has been done not a thing. So instead of sending them to you all im have been sending them to my congress critter and the congress critters responsible for your budget.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can you tell me where I can find a list of TSA "checkpoint friendly" laptop bags like you described in your post?
___________________________________
I bet you could google checkpoint friendly laptop bags and you would be able to find some.

Submitted by AngryMiller on

Bob, the front line screeners show an appalling lack of consistency even at the same airport. Please don't say that this is another layer of security when we know that it is due to management failing to properly instruct the TSOs.

This utter and near total lack of consistency does nothing to improve security. All it does is make the passengers wonder if anyone at TSA really knows what is going on regarding security.

Submitted by TSOWilliamReed on

A lot of passengers really don't understand how simple items can clutter up a bag. For instance if you have 4 school text books in your back pack, they will make it so all the other items in your bag can't be identifiable. So to make things easier since the text books are easiest to remove, the x-ray operator may ask the TSO to rerun the bag with the text books out and seperate. You don't have to remove these items before screening but if we need to remove them to be able to make out whats in your bag then thats what we are going to do. If we can't tell whats in your bag then we have to find out what is in your bag, the easiest way to do so is by removing some of the items in your bag and x-raying your bag again to make it easier to see everything.

Submitted by H G Rickover on

That's good to hear. Thanks for the update.

Submitted by Marty on

So is a MacBook Air considered a standard sized laptop @2.9 pounds and .75" thick?

Submitted by Mark Atwood on

When I flew out of SeaTac several weeks ago, after I went through the security screening, the TSA agent made me take my Kindle out of my bag, and then put my bag and my Kindle into separate bins, and run them through again. This was really unwelcome, given that there was no announcement that Kindles were to be treated like laptops, and I was really tight to get to my flight.

Today, when I flew out through SeaTac again, they were announcing it. That Kindles needed to be removed from carry-on bags, and seperately screened, just like laptops.

So, when is this policy actually going to be implemented at SeaTac?

It's especially galling that this is happening in Seattle, since the Kindle is an Amazon product, and Amazon is located in Seattle.

Submitted by Rocco on

Saying you can bring something smaller than a standard size laptop is a poor choice of words. I have an 11" laptop - is that small enough? what about my 10" tablet laptop? What about my 9" netbook? What about when I travel with several laptops? I do this for a living and something need both.

Why can't there be something posted that says "all electronics at 11.5" or smaller may stay in the bag"

Second question: this sounds like the war on liquids all over again (4 oz bad, 3 oz good). Exactly whyis a 10" laptop safe enough to leave in the bag, but an 11" laptop not safe enough?

I also seem to have had some posts - all written the same way, respectful yet with legitimate questions - censured. Sigh.

Submitted by Bufo Calvin on

That's great! Thanks for stating a clear policy.

It might help if you also let people know it is safe for the devices to go through the x-ray machines (and to be wanded). I think many people ask for individual handling out of concern about damage, which can create more work for screeners and slow down travelers.

Submitted by Josh Kirschner on

Hi Bob,

We are regularly asked to remove our kids' portable DVD player from its bag at LGA and MDW. Happened again just last week.

Submitted by Anonymous on

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.
----------------------------------------

I don't know about RB, but I can say that in my thousands of contact hours with my colleagues, no one has ever, ever spoken to me with the outrageously rude and needlessly authoritarian tone with which your officers have addressed me on a number of occasions. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that such acts of bullying would be treated as outrageous aberrations, and anyone who behaved that way would face immediate and severe consequences. Just like at the TSA, right?

Submitted by Deadpass on

What is the size of a "normal laptop" If netbooks are too small to need screened, those are 9 or 10" usually (screen size) What about my 13" laptop? It's smaller and lighter than most laptops, is it below the size of an "normal" laptop?

If we are told by a TSO to take our ipad or kindle out of our bag for screening what recourse do we have at the moment to fix the problem? The "got feedback" is too after the fact and will require compliance instead of correcting a TSO on the spot.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well thanks, I think (not sarcastic, more curiously optimistic). I generally carry a netbook and kindle with me when I fly. At BWI last year my kindle was mistaken for a DVD player(???) when I didn't take it out of my bag. The seemingly-arbitrary rules before this was that laptops and DVD players had to be taken out. Since the Kindle didn't count as either, maybe this clarifies things. I'll test this out when I fly in a few weeks.

Submitted by Suzi-Q on

Bob,

Thanks for your responsiveness. Managing such a large workforce (and keeping consistency across it!) is quite the task. Thanks for all TSA's work with all the new procedures.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Aww you guys are so cute! Not only do you do nothing to enhance security, find weapons and explosives, but now you're admitting it!

You know what, "BOB", how about instead of saying "You can kick back and leave your kindle"...

LET US KEEP OUR SHOES ON LIKE THE REST OF THE FREE WORLD.

Ehud
Tucson AZ
Moderate to your heart's content. But take your shoes off first.

Submitted by Calc on

Are 12" netbooks/laptops included in this policy of not needing to be removed from their bag? Standard size laptop is pretty vague but most laptops now are 15" so I might assume that 12" are considered to be covered by the not needing to be removed policy.

Submitted by Adrian on

Could someone on the blog team explain why relevant comments and questions are not being posted? I've had several disappear into the black hole lately, and I've heard similar compaints from others.

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