The iPad isn't special when it comes to airport security, it's just part of a smaller class of gadgets that doesn't need to be removed for screening.
In a blog post, the Transportation Security Administration said that netbooks, e-readers and other small gadgets can stay in your bag when going through security. “Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases,” said the TSA's “Blogger Bob.” “It’s that simple.”
Of course, a TSA agent can always pull your bag for closer inspection if he or she wants to. And laptops still need to be removed and sent through the X-ray machine separately, though you can purchase a special bag that's designed to breeze through airport security. Other large electronics, such as full-size video game consoles, also need to be removed.
With the rules clarified, now it's just a matter of making sure all the security agents get the memo. As a couple commenters on the TSA blog noted, agents don't always let Kindles stay tucked away. Blogger Bob said the TSA is working on standardizing the rules across all U.S. airports.
I'm not surprised that iPads, Nooks and Kindles won't have to be removed from bags. These are slim, light, single-panel devices that are more like phones and portable gaming consoles than laptops in terms of size and shape.
But netbooks could be a problem, given that the word is just a marketing term and the line between netbooks and notebooks is blurry. Unless you've got time to explain the finer points of Intel Atom processors to the TSA agent, you might want to take the netbook out just to be safe.