The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will soon enter into a testing phase for "checkpoint-friendly" bags and briefcases that would allow travelers to pass through airport security without having to remove their laptop computers.
After issuing a request for information (RFI) from bag manufacturers in March, the TSA said it has received 52 written proposals for designs. The agency is evaluating the designs and will add to the list of criteria it provided to suppliers once the evaluation period is complete. Companies will then have 90 days to submit prototype designs for testing.
The TSA will not formally certify any of the laptop cases, an agency spokesman said, but will offer feedback to those companies who submit prototypes.
According to the RFI, "The TSA requirement to remove the laptop from the computer bag is a common complaint heard by TSA ... If TSA was able to eliminate this requirement, it could lower passenger stress levels, increase checkpoint throughput and reduce the number of claims TSA receives for laptops that have been damaged during screening."
The basic criteria for the bag designs are as follows:
The bag and laptop can be viewed in a single x-ray image and the image shall not be degraded by the materials used in the bag design;
No straps, pockets, zippers, handles or closures can interfere with the image of the laptop; and
The bag has distinguishing and self-evident features that allow the TSA to identify that the laptop does not need to be removed. These features would include the physical design characteristics of the bag itself and not symbols or labeling.
The RFI contained some design suggestions for the bags :
a bag that would open completely so that each side of the bag would lie horizontally on the x-ray belt. One side of the bag would be designed to hold the laptop and nothing else.
a bag that would open completely so that each side of the bag would lie horizontally on the x-ray belt. Opening both sides of the bag would expose the laptop in the middle of the bag being held vertically by clips.
a bag that would contain the laptop in a separate compartment from other equipment like chargers and cables.
Approved bags could be available as early as the fourth quarter.