Checkpoint-Friendly Laptop Bags

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James A. Martin
PC World
Monday, August 25, 2008; 12:19 AM

Some words seem destined to go together, like "Marco" and "Polo," "Uma" and "Oprah," "rock" and "lobster." Until recently, however, I would never have thought to conjoin the words "checkpoint" and "friendly." But these days, the two seemingly disparate words are locked in a brazen embrace, showing up all over the media and the Internet, in relation to new laptop bags.

Checkpoint-friendly laptop bags promise to make running the airport security gauntlet a bit easier for travelers with laptops. But should you set aside your perfectly good laptop bag and buy one of these new models? Read on.

In early March, the Transportation Security Administration invited bag makers to come up with "checkpoint-friendly" laptop case designs. The bags would enable the flying public to pass through airport security checkpoints without having to remove their laptops from their bags.

So what makes a laptop bag "checkpoint friendly"? According to a TSA blog, such bags should have the following characteristics:

TSA says 40 bag manufacturers submitted prototypes for TSA testing. First to market is a $130 bag from Aerovation. Aerovation is a two-person business based in Ohio and owned by Ben Bosma, an engineer and former Air Force test pilot, and his wife, Ginny.

Before Aerovation began selling the bag in June--at least two months before competitors--Aerovation sold hats and other accessories for pilots. Bosma says he and Ginny began designing their laptop bag immediately after the TSA reached out to bag makers in March.

Within one week, Aerovation filed for patents related to the bag, Bosma says. He drove prototypes of the bag to an airport X-ray scanner manufacturer's facilities in Toledo for testing. Aerovation has sold or given away for promotional use over 1100 checkpoint-friendly bags since early June.

Bosma's is a compelling example of an agile small business getting a head start over the big guys. But the big guys are fast on his heels. Among the products shipping soon:

Briggs & Riley announced in late July it would have the "first-ever" checkpoint-friendly laptop sleeve. The SpeedThru sleeve is to be incorporated into the company's @work and verb business cases sold after August 15. Current owners of Briggs & Riley cases can upgrade their existing laptop sleeve for $40 or buy a stand-alone SpeedThru sleeve for $90.

Skooba Design sells a checkpoint-friendly bag for $140, and laptop pouches for $25 to $35.

Mobile Edge has three checkpoint-friendly ScanFast Collection bags coming in mid-September. The backpack, messenger, and briefcase models will each retail for $100, a spokesperson says.

Targus has announced the Zip-Thru 15.4 Corporate Traveler Laptop Case, available in October for $100.


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