How to Prepare for a Laptop Inspection at the Airport

Thanks to the takeover of airport inspections by the Transportation Security Administration, the security-screening procedures for laptop computers are pretty standard all over the United States. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before you get into the inspection line, remove your laptop from its carrying case.

    Yes, you’ll be burdened with stuff for a few moments. You have to carry your boarding pass, picture ID, laptop case, coat, and carry-on bag — plus any small children, coffee cups, croissants, and whatnot. But it’s only for a few moments.

  2. When you get to the X-ray machine, place your laptop in its own container and put the container on the conveyer belt.

    You might want to alert the baggage screeners to the laptop’s presence. You may also be asked to turn the laptop on. That’s a good reason to have the batteries fully charged. If they’re not, be sure to pack the power cord; most X-ray stations have a wall socket you can use.

    Do not put your coat over the laptop, and don’t toss your car keys into the same bin. In some places they may let you toss in your cell phone and PDA with the laptop, but don’t stack things on top of each other.

  3. Mind your laptop through the X-ray machine.

    Watch your laptop! The X-ray machine is a popular spot for thieves!

    Also, don’t worry: the X-ray machine doesn’t harm the laptop.

  4. Pick up your laptop on the other end of the X-ray machine.

    After the ordeal, you can put everything away, replacing the laptop into its case and storing all the other stuff that was disassembled or removed during the screening process. Then you’re on your way to the gate.