TSA: 11.6-inch MacBook Air is Bag-safe

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U.S. air travelers can leave their shiny new 11.6-inch MacBook Air laptops in their bags when passing through airport security checkpoints according to the TSA. The 13.3-inch model, however, is too big and still must come out for separate screening.

The TSA’s policy kills the notion that electronic devices without hard drives can stay in traveler’s bags since the 13.3-inche version of the MacBook Air has to pass through X-ray machines outside of carryon bags. Like the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, the 13.3-inch model uses flash RAM for data storage instead of a hard drive.

The 11.6-inch MacBook Air (left) is TSA checkpoint safe

Other smaller devices, like the iPad, Amazon’s Kindle and other ebook readers, can travel through security checkpoints in carryon bags. Netbook computers, even though they typically include internal hard drives, can stay in bags, too.

Electronics the TSA considers to be “standard laptop” size and larger — which apparently includes the 13.3-inch MacBook Air — still get the honor of traveling through X-ray machines in their own bin or in TSA-approved carryon bags.

“Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple,” the TSA states on its blog.

Now that the TSA has deemed the 11.6-inch MacBook Air falls into its magical safe zone, even more travelers may consider buying one for easier passage through airports.

[Thanks to Gadling for the heads up.]

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If you mean this:


...yup, Apple is just as vulnerable (if not more) than Windows machines. It’s simply a fact.


Recently I made the mistake of putting my clipboard in my carry on bag. It’s one of those made from a recycled circuit board. Even though it has no components, it looks for all the world like a computer on the X-Ray machine so they pulled me aside for a talking to.

I really wonder if they’ll allow you to go through without taking a peek. Maybe after they see a few.

Anyone with first hand experience yet?


Besides Macbooks in my family, all of which get scanned by the TSA (yes the Macbooks too!), I travel with the Sony 8” Vaio and have had no curiosity from the TSA. Initially the smaller Kindle set off more concern, but I think small netbooks are getting so common that the TSA has relaxed a little. Inadvertently I was carrying a micro multi-tool and had no issues either. I would advise everyone to wear underwear - preferably clean, tho! Just got back from a trip, LGA to MSN and no TSA hassle with DSLR, Kindle, Vaio 8”, iPod and Ipaq all in one suitcase - no trays.


This isn’t the only news outlet reporting that the TSA allows the smaller MacBook Air to remain in a bag, but the blog post doesn’t mention the new MacBook Air, and it couldn’t since it was written in April.

Granted, I think the 11.6” MacBook Air is “smaller than a standard laptop,” but is there any more specific ruling than the old blog post linked to? Every mention of “MacBook Air” on the TSA’s site is dated prior to the announcement of the new models.


While this may be TSA policy, just try to carry anything through at airport security.

I travel a lot (min., every other week), and I tried to leave my iPad in my bags and was stopped almost every time. I even argued with the screeners and was told that I needed to pull out my iPad. If you look at the actual TSA statements, they say that application is left to the local screeners.

So ... while it is nice that the TSA makes this statements, it really doesn’t change the situation on the ground. No matter what they say, expect for them to ask you to remove the computer and pass it through again. In the end, I just pull everything out, as opposed to possibly making it through or wasting time just because some screener hasn’t gotten the message.


All these controls are just excess jitters which makes the journey long and unpleasent. For my mind all these checkings don’t bring any profit for police but they give much stresses for passengers. I think that they break the human rights.

And I can’t understand why TSA imposed restrictions on some kinds of computers. There are two possible variants: they check all computers or they check no computers. Another variants as far as I see are just a stupidness.

And I also think that many TSA officers won’t follow a new order and they’ll continue to check all computers, you bring through the control.


Apple is just as vulnerable (if not more) than Windows machines. It?s simply a fact.

I’d rather not respond to a topic already off-point, but this requires at least two simple responses:

1) Oh, so here’s ONE Trojan that can attack Apples also. One out of ? how many dozens, or hundreds? This one joins a handful over some 10-15 years, compared to countless malware of all sorts on the PC side.

2) “(if not more)” Alright, offer some qualified and valid programming insight as to how it could be MORE so for Apple. And whatever you say, keep in mind that it also falls subject to 1).

With Apple’s increasing market share, it may indeed become a more worthwhile target. But even if the attacks on Apple increase substantially, the risks will still be fewer than PCs.

“It’s simply a fact.” I’ll believe that when you provide concrete evidence and historic trends.

Good luck with that.

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