It is hard to believe I have been traveling with an iPad for well over half-a-year now and an 11″ MacBook Air for more than a month. Both of these travel tools have changed how I work on the road and how I pack … but both tools present a consistent problem at the start of my journeys.
The problem is this … do I keep the iPad and MacBook Air in my bag at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints, or do I take them out? The TSA has clearly stated that both the iPad and the MacBook Air can stay in the bag … but in practice at the airport I have consistently encountered inconsistencies of the TSA’s policy on allowing these devices to remain in the bag.
The TSA’s policy that some computers can stay in a bag, while others must be removed, is not only confusing to many travelers, but it is clearly confusing to the agency’s Transportation Security Officers (TSO) as well. The TSA’s rationale is that computers, or devices, with solid state hard drives may remain in a bag, while those with non-solid state hard drives must be removed from the bag.
As more computers are offered with both “traditional” hard drives and solid state hard drives, how does the TSA expect its front line screeners to stay current on all new models of computers?
In my experience I have been asked to remove my iPad somewhat often, but flying with the 11″ MacBook Air is more confusing. Over the past month I have been traveling with the MacBook Air, the TSA has required me to remove it from my bag 50% of the time. The inconsistency is apparent in some airports, such as the TSA at both Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Providence’s T.F. Green Airport (PVD) have both allowed the 11″ MacBook Air to stay in the bag and have also required me to remove it from the bag.
So having just been allowed to cross through a TSA security check point at New York’s JFK Terminal with both the iPad and MacBook Air remaining in my bag … I am curious what will happen next week when I cross through the same check point again with both the iPad and MacBook Air in my bag.