Don't Let Your Laptop Slow You down at Airport Security

Flying, for many, is a feat of fortitude. It is not only about spending long hours in the air, but also the amount of time usually spent at the terminal. Waiting to check-in can often be longer than expected, but even worse than that is to encounter an unmoving line at security. Facing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is one of the most frustrating aspects of air travel for most people. Tales of privacy violation and long-drawn searches are shared often on the Web, this and the snail-paced lines during the holiday season suddenly makes airport security a nightmare. One of the biggest fears of any flyer is to lose their laptop in the checked baggage. This is why it is usually preferred to take it along onboard with the carry-on luggage. But even then, if not packed correctly, it can cause you a delay during the security check. Below are a few steps you can follow to ensure that you and your laptop breeze through airport security:

Pack Smartly

It is always advisable to learn the rules of airport security beforehand. Make sure that the intended checked baggage is properly packed with no loose cords or metal containers. If not, be prepared to get pulled up. The carry-on baggage is the luggage you are allowed to take onboard the airplane. You can carry one personal item like a laptop, a purse, a small backpack or a camera case, over and above one carry-on. There are a few things you should keep in mind so that your checked luggage and carry-on luggage, which usually includes your laptop, makes the flight with you. - If there is film in your checked baggage, be ready, the screening equipment will damage it. Keep all undeveloped film and cameras in your carry-on baggage - Putting your personal belongings in clear plastic bags will make it less probable that the TSA screener will have to handle them - Do not keep wires and cords in a jumble; pack them cleanly with minimum possible looping - Get a backpack with a lot of pockets for the journey. If you want to take a purse make sure it fits inside the backpack - Don�t stack piles of books or documents on top of each other - Make your belongings easily visible to hasten the process - Do not pack or bring prohibited items to the airport - Check ahead of time with your agent or airline to determine the baggage policy, including the limitations on the number of pieces, size and weight - Carry-on baggage always follows the 1+1 rule, one bag and one personal item - Keep identification tags on all your bags with your name, phone number and address. This includes your laptop - Avoid overpacking, especially around your laptop. Not only will it cause spillage when opened for checks, it may even cause the airport security to pull you out due to difficulty in screening - If you are carrying any wrapped electronic equipment or anything gift-wrapped be prepared for it to be opened for inspection

Prepare Your Laptop for the Trip

TSA requires an unobstructed view of your hardware in order to make sure your computer hasn�t been tampered with. However, juggling various items like shoes, jacket, ID and tickets, makes it difficult to keep a track of things. Add a fragile and difficult-to-handle laptop in the mix, and you can find yourself in complete disarray by the time you reach the scanner. Be prepared to prove that the laptop is yours. US Customs officials may charge you a duty fee to bring your laptop into the country, unless you prove it has been purchased in the United States. Keep it handy when standing in line. If asked to turn on your laptop to prove it is a working computer, which may mean time to boot up, be prepared. Turn on your laptop before you get in line and put it in sleep mode. Trying to save time by packing your laptop with your checked luggage is a no-no. The chances of theft are high for any valuable packed in the checked luggage. Carry the laptop with you and make sure some part of your body is touching it at all times. If a traveler fails to answer the questions posed or follow security guidelines, airport security has the right to confiscate the laptop. In case of multiple laptops being passed through security, you should put your name and address on them. Don�t run your laptop through anything other than the airport security x-ray machines. Keep it away from other screening equipment and request that it be physically inspected instead. Make sure your laptop is prepped and ready before your journey.

TSA Approved Laptop Bags

To save on time, and the annoyance of having to take out your laptop in transit, try and get yourself a TSA-approved laptop bag. You can choose from three different patterns: Butterfly, Trifold, and Sleeve. These allow the x-ray machine a clear view of your computer as it rolls along on the conveyor belt. People carrying laptop bags that are not checkpoint-friendly must remove the laptop from the bag. When you place the laptop in the scanning bin to pass through the x-ray machine make sure there are no other hard objects in it that could damage the laptop. Some of the things to look for when selecting a checkpoint-friendly bag: - Make sure your bag has a designated laptop-only section to lay it out flat on the x-ray belt - There should be no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on-top of the laptop-only section - The laptop-only section should have no pockets inside or outside - There should be nothing in the laptop compartment other than the laptop - Make sure that your bag can be unfolded so that there is nothing above or below the laptop-only section - Make sure that your bag can be unfolded so that there is nothing above or below the laptop-only section

What Stays in and What Does Not

Any laptop 12x14� or larger has to come out of the bag. Not every laptop coming through is measured, but those are the general dimensions that are considered to be standard size. But remember, if you choose to leave your small laptop in the bag and it is not visible clearly on the x-ray, it will have to come out. Usually equipment like tablet computers, netbooks, and e-readers are less dense than a typical laptop and are easier for x-ray operators to inspect. However, larger laptops and game consoles appear denser and need to be removed in order for the x-ray operator to get a look. But once again, if the officer can�t get a good look at your bag, or if they see something out of the ordinary, they will have to remove it. A lot can be hidden inside a laptop. Items have often been found concealed in the body or circuitry of laptops, this makes it imperative for security officials to take a good look at them. Having only three seconds to make a call in order to keep the lines moving, the more visible you keep your laptop the faster the process will go.

Wear a Smile

It may not be your favourite part about traveling but security checks and security officials at airports have a very important job to do. Venting your frustration at them is a sure-fire way to slow yourself down. The TSA agents deal with scores of grumpy travelers every day. But if you keep your cool, cooperate and wear a smile the procedure will be pleasant for you and everyone around. So the next time you go through airport security keep in mind the points above if you�re carrying your laptop, tablet, gaming console or other devices. Make sure that you cooperate with the officials and have the documents and equipment handy for speedy checks.