Good news: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now making business travelers' lives a whole lot easier. You'll soon be able to buy computer cases that allow laptops to remain in their bags when going through airport security checkpoints.
The bad news: You can't easily get one of these new bags yet. After 9/11, the government understandably became very serious about airport security. According to a recent TSA press release:
"TSA screens laptops to see if the electronics have been tampered with. TSOs (Transportation Security Officers) know what the inside of a computer should look like, and can recognize irregularities. This is why they need an unobstructed view as the item moves through the X-ray machine."
Recently, the TSA asked computer accessory and luggage manufacturers to develop new laptop case designs that would produce a "clear and unobstructed image" of the laptop when undergoing X-ray screening. The ability of these TSOs to "see through the bag" would save time, effort and money in the screening process.
The TSA announced that the new, "check-point-friendly" laptop bags were suitable for use this past weekend. However, a TSA survey of some of the 60 manufacturers that have expressed interest in producing the new bags found that it would take until after Labor Day to have them on the market.One of the manufacturers that I've spoken with, Pathfinder Luggage, told me that it has started taking orders for its approved bag design and hopes to start filling those orders early next month.
But that's not all. Even if you buy one of these new bags, there is no guarantee that you'll save any time on airport security lines. The bags only work if you don't overstuff them with cables, extension cords, disks, accessories and anything that might obscure the X-ray image of the computer inside.