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TSA Travel Tips Tuesday - How Not To Forget Your Laptop at the TSA Checkpoint and How to Get It Back If You Do

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Laptop computer.

Happy Tuesday! In this week’s installment of Travel Tips Tuesday, we warn you about one of the common pitfalls that result when laptops are left behind at the security checkpoint. We also suggest how to get your laptop back if you do forget it. Please read on if you are interested.

Out of Sight Out of Mind - While gathering items after they come out of the X-ray, many will stack their bins to conserve space while they’re recombobulating. Since the laptop is a flat surface, many stack their second bin on top of the laptop bin. This puts the laptop out of sight. So, while the traveler gathers his or her items, the laptop is left behind as the traveler rushes off to their gate.

Tape a Business Card to Your Laptop - Many will realize they’ve forgotten their laptop and rush back to the checkpoint. Others do not realize it, and in most instances, there isn’t any info on the laptop to tell us who the owner is. It’s a good idea to tape a business card or a label with your name and contact info on or inside of your laptop. This helps in several ways:

  • It gives us a name to page.
  • It gives us a phone number so we can try to contact you.
  • It lets us know which laptop is yours when you call to retrieve it.

How to Get Your Laptop Back - If you go to our Airport Lost & Found Contacts page, you’ll be able to find phone numbers for each airport’s TSA lost & found office. This happened to my father recently. He left his laptop at Cincinnati (CVG) and was in Florida before he realized he left it behind. After contacting CVG’s TSA lost & found office, they were kind enough to mail (at my dad’s expense) his laptop to him. That’s just one of the options. You can also arrange to pick it up upon your return, or have a friend or family member pick it up for you.

See you next Tuesday with more travel tips! Until then, check out some of our previous Travel Tips Tuesday posts if you haven’t already.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Submitted by Laura Monteros on

Good tip about the business card, Bob. I don't fly much, but I do take my laptop with me frequently.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Who is John McCaffrey?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm going to bookmark this info (and the list of airport lost & found numbers) in my phone browser for easy access since I figure I'd probably be a bit distraught by the time I needed to use this information!

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Who is John McCaffrey?"

What? This name isn;t anywhere in the post.

Submitted by TSA Officer on

Great suggestions! I would also recommend two more things to add: Invest in a "checkpoint friendly" laptop bag, so the laptop doesn't get separated. And invest in TSA PreCheck, so you don't even have to worry about taking it out of the bag.

Submitted by RB on

If laptops stayed in their bags there would be not issue of being left behind. Just more TSA nonsense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Great tip - thanks!

Submitted by Anonymous on

A laptop can stay in a bag when using a Pre-Check lane, which uses the same X-ray equipment and TSA personnel that are found in any other lane. Thus, there is no logical reason to make laptops come out their bags when your equipment and staff can still detect an anomaly. The only difference is that those in the regular lanes are being hassled in order to trump up the value of the $85 extortion fee for Pre-Check.

Security Theater at its finest.

Submitted by RB on

Bob, if laptops can be screened while in a regular bag in a Pre Check lane why can't TSA screeners do the same in the other lanes?

Is this a problem with TSA employee training or just more TSA CS?

If shoes can stay on in the Pre Check lane that suggests that shoes are not really a significant threat. In fact there has never been a shoe bomber on any U.S. originating flight.

Why are shoes required to be removed in non-Pre Check lanes? Is this another example of poor training of TSA screeners?

If TSA would make Pre Check style screening the standard entry level screening for everyone TSA would realize significant costs savings while improving travelers flow through the checkpoints. TSA could always have additional layers(you TSA people like that word)of screening for those who require extra attention.

Why is TSA to ignorant to realize these simple facts?

Submitted by Anonymous on

How do you get it back if one of your employees steals it?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please provide a cost-benefit analysis supporting PreCheck. The analysis should compare PreCheck to other screening alternatives, including returning to pre-9/11 security procedures. Thank you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

A better topic: How to get your laptop (or other possessions) back if a TSO steals it...

Submitted by Sanjida Shanta on

TSA approach to security is grotesquely invasive, based on hysteria and overreaction, and doesn't actually make anyone safer.

Submitted by B Smith on

How do you get it back if you didn't tape a business card to it. And get TSA lost and found in Miami 305 876 7377 to answer the phone. They hide behind a recorder and never return the call.