What Makes a Laptop Bag TSA Friendly?

How To Tell if Your Laptop Bag is TSA Friendly

The TSA requirement to remove laptops from their bags is a cumbersome effort for some travelers. If the TSA employee at the security checkpoint determines that the image of the laptop is not clear enough on their scanner, they will require the laptop to be scanned separately outside of its bag. However, this increases the likelihood that the laptop will be misplaced, dropped, or even worse, stolen by another passenger at the end of the security line or even by a TSA agent.

In 2008, the TSA worked with laptop bag manufacturers to create a standard for bags that are “TSA-friendly” to make the laptop scanning process easier for passengers. The new standard? The scanner should be able to produce a clear image of the laptop without you having to take it out of its protective carrier.

The following are some guidelines to follow for choosing a checkpoint friendly laptop bag, as well as some product recommendations.

TSA Friendly Requirements for Laptop Bags

The key component to a checkpoint friendly laptop bag is a laptop-only section that is free of pockets. A portion of the bag should be dedicated solely to the laptop and have nothing else inside.

In addition, this section should have no metal snaps, zippers or buckles on the inside, underneath, or outside. Finally, the bag should be able to completely unfold and lay flat on the X-ray belt so that there is nothing placed above or below it, allowing for the TSA officials to perform a clear scan.

So just to sum it up, a laptop bag that is TSA compliant should have:

  1. A laptop only section with no pockets.
  2. The laptop only section must have no metal zippers, snaps, or buckles.
  3. The laptop only section should be able to unfold and lay flat when it is X-rayed.

Our Favorite TSA Compliant Laptop Bags

The following are a few examples of TSA friendly laptop bags to use while traveling, ensuring that your expensive possessions stay safe and secure.

1. Lapacker Laptop Backpack

image 1 bag

This laptop backpack fits laptops and tablets from 15.6″-17.3″. Made of sturdy canvas, its dimensions are 13″x7.1″x19.7″. It has a capacity of 2,746 cubic inches so there’s plenty of space to fit all the other travel essentials in addition to your laptop. It is TSA checkpoint friendly as it is able to be laid flat on the x-ray belt and it does not need to be removed in order to be scanned.

2.  Timbuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack

timbuk2 command laptop backpack easy TSA passage

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money, the Timbuk2 Command Laptop backpack is a terrific choice for a TSA friendly bag.  This laptop bag is made of polyurethane which makes it extremely lightweight and very flexible.  So if you’re going on a shorter trip and only need to pack your laptop, the bag will be very thin.  When you need to pack it full of stuff it will expand to fit everything you need to carry around.  This versatility makes the Timbuk2 well worth the premium price tag since it is the only laptop bag you’ll need, whether it’s an overnight trip or a 7 day vacation, this backpack can handle it.

3.  ECBC TSA FastPass Friendly Laptop Backpack

ECBC laptop bag for quickly getting through TSA checkpoints with your laptop


This laptop backpack is TSA FastPass friendly due to it’s easy to use flip out laptop compartment as shown in the picture above.  The ECBC laptop bag has 19 storage compartments and a 28 liter capacity which is huge.

The best part of this bag is the easy unzip laptop compartment.  All you have to do is unzip the laptop holder and run your bag through the x-ray.  No fuss, no hassle, in and out of the TSA checkpoint with minimal harassment.

The side of the bag also has a holder for your water bottle and it can fit any size water bottle including the infamous, gigantic Nalgene water bottle.  Next to the water bottle compartment there is an easy stow system for the straps.  When you need the straps, just pull them out.  When you don’t need them they are conveniently and easily tucked away, out of sight and out of danger so you won’t accidentally snag them on anything.


Ask any traveler and they’ll say the number 1 PITA (pain in the @#$) is the TSA checkpoint.  The easiest way to relieve some of the stress and headache of the airport is to get a nice carry on bag that will get you through security more quickly and will keep your laptop nice and safe.  All 3 of these laptop backpacks will fit the bill and you can’t go wrong with any of them.