New bags let you keep your laptop stowed for x-ray

One of the most irritating things about going through security at the airport is when you have to take your laptop computer out of your bag to put it through the x-ray. Invariably, the notebook is always at the bottom of my backpack, underneath 12 pairs of socks, a Frisbee and some loose sugar packets, so all of this has to come out and be reassembled after screening.

The reason that the TSA requires this is that they have a hard time seeing through other electronics that are often in-plane during the x-ray — things like power supplies, cd-rom drives or other extraneous equipment.

If these electronics could be separated during the screening, the TSA concedes, then passengers could leave their notebooks stowed away during the process. So they called for proposals from manufacturers to design a case that could accomplish this task.

Now, with designs finalized, the world’s heavyweight bag manufactureres are racing to bring them to market. Luggage giant Targus expects to have several units on the shelves by September, while Pathfinder has a similar plan.

The real question is how well the TSA screeners will handle it. You know that there will be one or two who forget the new designs are x-ray permissible, which means head butting between passengers and security.

I personally am probably going to stick with my Arc’teryx backpack when on the road — I can’t afford to have multiple bags or a niche piece of luggage when I’m packing light.