If you read my post on "checkpoint friendly" bags back in July you may be wondering what is going on with this program. Starting on 16 August, the TSA announced they were ready allow compliant "checkpoint friendly" bags through the X-ray machines while remaining in the bags. The TSA always has the option to check any back going through the machines, but this new program should help in many cases. I was sent an evaluation bag from Aerovation and then made a trip to Singapore in late August that served as a perfect test trip for the bag and I am happy to report it made it through the system just as intended. Check out my image gallery and the YouTube video they posted below.
|Image Gallery:Check out product photos of the Aerovation Checkpoint Friendly bag.|
As I stated in my July post, the TSA is now allowing people to keep their laptops in the bag when going through the x-ray machine for compliant "checkpoint friendly" bags. They will not certify bags or specifically state what bags are allowed to pass through the machines and they always have the option to ask you to remove your laptop. However, there are now companies releasing bags that have met all the requirements of the TSA and some are now making it through the X-ray machines. During my recent trip, they are still asking people to remove their laptops before going through the X-ray and if you have a checkpoint friendly bag then you should just leave it in the bag and try to get through the system as the new program is designed.
The requirements state that the bag should have no straps, pockets, zippers, handles, or closures that interfere with the image of the laptop so I thought I would then have to carry a simple sleeve case along with a full laptop bag to carry accessories, chargers, etc. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the innovative design solution that Aerovation came up with in their product. They addressed my concern, while also making a very functional bag.
What they have done is have a laptop only compartment/bag that connects to a main bag that has compartments for you to carry chargers, phones, pens, cables, and more. The two bags have three velcro pieces that keep them secured together with durable rings up top that are tied together by the should strap clip. You simply pull open the two bags (loosening the velcro) from the bottom and keep them attached at the top (rings and clips) while laying the bag (now two bags) down flat on the X-ray belt. One TSA requirement is that the bag cannot be longer than 30 inches when laid flat and laying these two pieces together on the belt will always be less than this 30 inches.
I also saw in the video that the included shoulder strap is virtually transparent in the X-ray machine so you can pretty much lay it anywhere on the bags and pass through the machine. I actually was given a very nice Skooba Design Superbungeee Strap so I decided to use it instead since it was so much more comfortable than the included strap.
As I entered the Seatac airport security point I separated the two parts of the bag and laid it on the belt. The bag went through the X-ray machine without incident and I was off and running in just a couple of minutes. It was nice not to have to take out my laptop, place it in a bin, then recover it and put it back in my bag on the other end. The same method did not work when I passed through Tokyo and Singapore as they still asked me to take out my laptop. However, it appears to work well for U.S. domestic flights (worked again for me passing through Portland, Oregon) and I will have more travel this fall where I will continue to test it out.
The laptop compartment fit my 15 inch MacBook Pro and 15 inch Dell Latitude laptop with decent protection all around them and a velcro strap to keep them secured against the side. The other part of the bag has a nice big pocket I used to carry several mobile phones, along with compartments for chargers, cables, pens/pencils, and batteries. There is a front pocket as well, where I kept my boarding passes and passport. I did find that the zippers tended to stick a bit as I was closing up the top of the openings, while they easily slid open and I am a bit concerned about their durability. Then again, I did have the bag loaded and this loading may have impacted the zipper functionality a bit.
The Aerovation Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag is currently on back-order (4-6 weeks out) so they are offering it for US$110.46 (regular price of US$129.95). If you are a frequent traveler in the U.S., then I would take a serious look at one of these checkpoint friendly bags and I think this Aerovation one is one of the first to actually be available. I like their design solution that doesn't require me to have to remove a sleeve case from my bag or require me to carry two separate bags and so far it has worked well.