Review: 3 TSA-Approved Laptop Bags Compared – Belkin Flythru, Skooba Checkthrough Brief & Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

If you’re a geek like us, you never travel without your laptop. While netbooks have become more popular for lightweight personal travel, most of us still have to lug full size notebooks for work. Given the travel situation in the post-9/11 world, we were extremely happy when we heard that TSA (the airport security folks) put out specifications for laptop bags to allow laptops to go through security without having to be removed from the bag. Sure, you could always travel with your laptop, but those of us who travel regularly know what a hassle the X-ray checkpoints can be.

Typically, with an ordinary laptop bag, security makes you remove a laptop and put it in a bin by itself, with nothing covering it. This means, on top of removing your shoes, emptying your pockets, taking off your watch, belt, cell phone, keys, yank out your zip lock bag with your gels and liquids, you also have to dig out your laptop.

Given that most laptop thefts take place in airports, and the majority of those take place in the exit of the X-ray line, being able to keep your laptop secure and hidden in your bag is a big deal and a time saver. If you travel through a major US airport such as Atlanta or Chicago, you know that even saving 20 seconds per person can add up to huge time savings and shortened lines when considering the thousands of people moving through the checkpoints in those airports.

It has been several years since TSA announced their guidelines for approved bags, and we felt it was time to see what the various bag manufacturers had come up with. We contacted a total of 7 manufacturers asking for their offerings, and three sent us review units: Belkin “Flythru”, Skooba “Checkthrough Brief”, and Tom Bihn “Checkpoint Flyer”. Let’s see if any of these TSA compliant laptop bags fit the bill.