The “checkpoint friendly” bags either have to open up in a butterfly or trifold style so that the laptop can lay flat and be seen from top to bottom as it passes through a scanner. Laptop sleeves are also acceptable.
The TSA is getting very savvy at passenger and manufacturer relations, and had a several-month-long process of figuring out appropriate bag designs in consultation with the bag-making industry, and then inviting manfuacturers to submit and test samples for feedback.
Bag makers won’t be allowed to brand their bags with TSA logos or have them certified as TSA approved, but they can market them as designed around these TSA guidelines.
Just because you have a bag that meets the guidelines doesn’t mean you won’t be asked to remove your laptop. However, it’s far less likely. Qualifying bags also have to be easy to open by the TSA, so you may be allowed to pass your bag through, and then the TSA will handle your laptop–which may or may not seem like a great idea to you.
I expect the TSA just prompted the sale of a million new laptop bags. I already have a sleeve, and I believe it qualifies for these guidelines. We’ll see the next time I fly.
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