TSA approves new laptop carry-on bags

At airport security checkpoints in the United States and elsewhere, passengers have for years heard the refrain, almost a dirge: ''Laptops must be removed from their cases and placed on the belt.'' Get ready for a change. The Transportation...

Among the bags Targus is producing is a backpack design, Giazzon said. He said that retailers were already clamoring for the bags, which will cost from $39 for a basic model to about $100 ''for our corporate series, for heavy-duty travelers.''

Hawley said that the TSA had deliberately avoided formally certifying various manufacturers' bag designs.

''Everybody is aware that the process of the government certifying a piece of security equipment involves a lot of time and red tape,'' he said.

Instead, manufacturers were encouraged to come up with designs that would pass muster, and perhaps adopt a universal slogan or logo that says, ''This bag is checkpoint-friendly,'' he said.

Hawley said he did not expect that the new laptops would create undue confusion after their introduction, since security officers would be well informed about them.

To make sure the cases are easily identifiable, the TSA said in its request for proposals sent to manufacturers that bags should be designed with ''self-evident features,'' including an absence of buckles, pockets or zippers.

Manufacturers were also told that they could label the bags as ''checkpoint friendly,'' or use similar terms, but that they could not state nor imply that the bags were certified or approved by the TSA or use a TSA logo on them.

It will be immediately apparent if a laptop case is not properly designed for easy visual inspection because it will not give security officers a clear X-ray image, Hawley said. The case and laptop will then be removed from the belt for a close look by security officers, he said.

Davis said that passengers who are forced to take a laptop out of its case and rerun it through the X-ray equipment will, in itself, encourage manufacturers to ensure that ''checkpoint friendly'' cases really are.

''If a customer buys the new case and sends it through security and the security officer said, 'Sorry, this doesn't work,' then you've got a very upset customer,'' he said.