Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Checkpoint-friendly Laptop Cases Out Now

If you travel with a laptop, getting through the security gauntlet at the airport is almost as much fun as when you travel with a toddler. You normally have to remove it from the case, lay it flat with nothing on top of it, with a TSA agent barking at you for still not doing it right as you fill up bin #4 with your belt and shoes. Get to the end and put it all back together again.

Things took a big step forward recently with the approval of laptop bags that will fly through security with ease. They are now hitting the market, including office stores like Staples where you can get different versions from Samsomite and Targus. With these cases, your laptop stays in place and all you have to do is unzip the bag and lay it flat on the belt. At the other end you just zip it back up and you're on your way in a flash (well, after you put your shoes and belt back on.)

I've been trying out the Samsonite Checkmate laptop case, which will make my life easier next time out. It fits a 15.4-inch computer snugly or a netbook-sized one with room to spare (see pics). For that see-through compartment, it's laptop-only. But then the rest of the bag is like any other one you've used for travel or going back and forth to the office: lots of pockets and compartments, comfortable handle, and a shoulder strap. There is plenty of room for chargers, gadgets, and reading material, plus a front pocket with spaces for pens, business cards, a phone, and the like.

It uses lots of pleather around the nylon at the stress points, but the Samsonite Checkmate bag retails for $80 and comes with a 3-year warranty. It's rugged and looks like it will take any abuse you throw at it, while the cushioning inside keeps your equipment intact.

Staples also carries a few other computer bag options, including a rolling version. These models are just now getting into stores and taking longer to trickle out online, but should be easy to find as we get closer to the holidays. If you've got a business traveling road warrior on your list, this would be an appreciated gift.

8 comments:

Pam said...

I'd recommend having a look at the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer, too (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB1701). Though I don't own any Tom Bihn products, I'm considering an Aeronaut for and upcoming around-the-world trip. Though expensive, their products seem to be very well reviewed.

Greg said...

I recently had a chance to test out Targus's Zip-Thru bag (http://tinyurl.com/45fq2d) on a quick hop from Philly to Toronto. I have to say that the unzipping mechanism worked great going through Philly's TSA gauntlet. I was incredulous at first, because I wasn't sure how much time it would save, but it certainly made things more seamless and less fumble-y. As a bag, it leaves a lot to be desired in storage space, comfort, and gear accessibility, but I was genuinely impressed with the smoothness of getting through the scanners. The security officer in Toronto still made me unpack the laptop, though, which was frustrating.

Tim said...

Pam and Greg---thanks for the feedback! There will probably be a bit of a learning curve for a while with the TSA agents. They've got a tough job enforcing illogical and ever-changing rules. Once more of these get into circulation the inconsistencies in treatment will hopefully disappear.

arex said...

I keep seeing these pop up everywhere. I really hope those TSA ppl would be smart enough to know. Knowing TSA, 95% of them would still demand you to take your laptop out of the case no matter what it says on the bag. It's a pity that good advancements in bag design is hampered by imbeciles at the TSA level.

load warrior said...

I picked up one of these a few weeks ago and just used it on a round-trip flight with no hassles. Granted I was in New York and Chicago, where they've probably caught on early, but the bag sailed right through.

Travel Professionals said...

hi, can anyone tell me how much does it cost??

Tim said...

The price for this model is $80. The direct link is ungodly long but search Samsonite at Staples and it'll pop up.

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