TSA announces that 11″ MacBook Air computers can remain in their bag at the checkpoint

In a spot of good news for proud owners of the new 11″ MacBook Air, the Transportation Security Administration has announced that passengers may leave their machine in its bag when passing through the checkpoint.

A similar exception was previously made for the Apple iPad – which brings me to the question – why did they never announce these exceptions for the hundreds of similar machines passengers have used in the past? Before I started traveling with a checkpoint friendly bag, TSA officers always demanded that I remove my computer from its bag – even when the machine was just an 8 or 10 inch netbook.

The 13″ MacBook Air is sadly deemed too large for the exception – but that only raises even more questions – given that both machines are essentially the same on the inside, why can officers scan an 11″ machine when it is in a bag, but require special access to anything larger? The whole thing proves that the chairman of British Airways was right when he complained about inconsistent screening by the TSA.

And to clarify – the news comes from CNN who received it from a TSA spokesman – the TSA has not issued any kind of formal statement. Have you passed through security with a new 11″ MacBook Air? Did you notice any leeway in the screening procedure?

Update: According to the TSA blog, the rules for smaller computers were indeed relaxed earlier this year. In their words: Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases.

In other words, there is no special exception for the 11″ MacBook Air – it simply falls under existing rules for smaller computers.

[Image credit: Getty Images]