My Two Cents: The New TSA-Friendly Laptop Bags

“Ho un portatile.”

“J’ai un ordinateur portable.”

“Tengo un ordenador portátil.”

What do these phrases have in common? They all mean, “I have a laptop” – a phrase I’ve had to learn when traveling by airplane.

I carry my laptop in a large L.L. Bean bag, along with all my other carry-on stuff. Between my cell phone(s), iPod, digital camera, laptop and their cords, chargers and plugs, my bag can look like Spaghetti Gone Wild when seen on an airport X-ray screen. So, like all good techie travelers, I’ve learned to announce that I have a laptop and then put it in its own container as it goes through screening.

However, The New York Times is reporting that this might be a thing of the past:

The Transportation Security Administration has given the go-ahead for passengers to use newly designed carry-on bags that will let them pass through security without having to take their laptops out for the X-ray inspection.

I always feel badly for the business traveler. They usually are not dressed for travel, having just come from or needing immediately to go to an office environment. They’re wrinkled, uncomfortable, and usually sweaty. And they can’t just throw their stuff in a weekend bag – they’ve got a suit change in a hanger bag, an unwieldy luggage beast if there ever was one.

To add to this indignity as well as their (justified) annoyance at having to be around people who are going on vacation, they’ve been saddled with a sad, scuffed, overstuffed laptop briefcase.

I’m not talking about the uber-hip, I’m-writing-my-novel-in-a-Starbucks messenger bags. They’ve jammed a bunch of files in there, ruining the sleek silhouette that was the bag’s original intent. They’ve slung it across their body Indy Jones style, and the shoulder pad is twisted and cutting into their neck. Their glasses fly off when trying to remove it over their head at the same time they’re basically disrobing for the TSA.

Here’s a chance to make new briefcases for these travelers – and they’re just as ugly as the old ones? Is there really anyone who thinks this was a stylish, ergonomic or otherwise useful invention to begin with?

I’ll stick to my trusty Bean – and hopefully, I’ll be able to learn “I have a laptop” in even more languages for my travels!


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