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New Bag Helps Laptops Pass Air Security Without Removal
Source: New York Times

by Chris Gash for the New York Times

"They don't want anything obscuring the view of the laptop," he said. "In our case, the material is nylon and foam, and the X-ray machine will see right through that."

Pathfinder is making two models but plans others. One is a briefcase in which the attached laptop holder is exposed when the case is unzipped. The other is a wheeled carry-on with a removable laptop case.

Mr. Davis estimated that the briefcase version would sell for $100 to $150 and the wheeled version for $150 to $200.

Targus, the largest maker of cases for laptops and notebook computers, is about to begin production at factories in China of four new models of checkpoint-compatible bags, said Al Giazzon, the vice president for marketing.

"We've got to produce a lot of them," he said. "We're currently scheduled for a late September or early October delivery of our first bags."

Among the bags Targus is producing is a backpack design. Mr. Giazzon said. He said that retailers were already clamoring for the bags, which will cost from $39 for a basic model to about $100 "for our corporate series, for heavy-duty travelers."

Mr. Hawley said that the T.S.A. has deliberately avoided formally certifying various manufacturers' bag designs.

"Everybody is aware that the process of the government certifying a piece of security equipment involves a lot of time and red tape," he said.

Instead, manufacturers were encouraged to come up with designs that would pass muster, and perhaps adopt a universal slogan or logo that says, "This bag is checkpoint-friendly," he said.

Mr. Hawley said he did not expect that the new laptops would create undue confusion after their introduction, since security officers would be well informed about them.

To make sure the cases are easily identifiable, the T.S.A. said in its request for proposals sent to manufacturers in March that bags should be designed with "self-evident features," including an absence of buckles, pockets or zippers.

Manufacturers were also told that they could label the bags as "checkpoint friendly," or use similar terms, but that they could not state nor imply that the bags were certified or approved by the T.S.A. or use a T.S.A. logo on them.

It will be immediately apparent if a laptop case is not properly designed for unobscured visual inspection because it will not give security officers a clear X-ray image, Mr. Hawley said. The case and laptop will be removed from the belt for a close look by security officers, he said.

Mr. Davis said that passengers who are forced to take a laptop out of its case and rerun it through the X-ray equipment will, in itself, encourage manufacturers to ensure that "checkpoint friendly" cases really are.

"If a customer buys the new case and sends it through security and the security officer said, 'Sorry, this doesn't work,' then you've got a very upset customer," he said.