WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration is taking aim at one of the biggest airport-security hassles: It's trying to find a way to let travelers leave laptops in their cases at checkpoints.
The agency is searching for a "checkpoint friendly" case that would give screeners a clear view as it goes through an X-ray machine. One possible design is a case that unfolds like a book, with a laptop on one side and gear on the other side.
Prototypes are being solicited from companies. New cases could ease security for the 250 million travelers who bring laptops on airplanes each year and speed lines for everyone, TSA technology chief Mike Golden said.
"The key is the laptop is separate from any other items," Golden said.
The business of designing laptops could be revolutionized as manufacturers roll out TSA-compliant bags, said Al Giazzon, head of marketing for casemaker Targus. "The vast majority of people who travel are going to look for a bag that complies with the standard," Giazzon said. His California company has worked on checkpoint-friendly cases.
The TSA will begin prototype testing in June. It could eventually set standards for checkpoint-friendly cases and require unique features that would signal to airport screeners that the bags can go through X-rays with laptops inside.
Laptops must be removed because they are so dense that they could block X-ray machines from illuminating weapons hidden in cases.
Peter Troccoli, a 250,000-mile-a-year traveler from Portland, Ore., said checkpoint-friendly cases would help a little when he goes through security and removes his shoes, belt, coins and cellphone and pulls liquids from his bag.
"I end up with so many little containers and stuff, if I didn't have to take my computer out, that's one less thing," he said.