What to Do about iPads and Tablets when Going Through Security

You already know about your laptop: it must be removed from its case when going through the TSA security checkpoint (but see the exception below). However, an iPad or other tablet is like a laptop – and so is a smart phone – yet security procedures for these devices vary.

More Liberal Rules for iPads on Planes Coming?

Listen as air travel analyst Rick Seaney tells Editor Anne McDermott what he does with his iPad at security:

Tablets, iPads, E-Books, Phones Can Stay in Cases

According to the TSA, tablets including iPads can remain in protective cases. Here is the specific guidance word-for-word from the TSA website: “Small and portable electronic items (iPods, iPads, cell phones, etc.) do not need to be removed from their carrying cases.”

However there is a catch.

iPhone Explodes on Plane

As Usual, There is a Catch

The TSA has long said that one of its many-layered approaches to security is the randomness of its procedures, and that is holds true when it comes to small electronic devices, too. More from the site:

“Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.”

iPads – Pilots are Loving Them

The TSA’s widely-read Blogger Bob adds that, “If something needs a closer look, it will receive secondary screening.” No specific reason is given why some items can be encased and why others must be removed from cases. A New York Times story on the subject essentially concluded it was a ‘mystery.’

Not All Laptops Must be Removed from Cases

To add to the confusion, the TSA does allow some laptops to stay in cases, if they are TSA-approved cases. Note: Those who feel compelled to take a stand on the matter of cases vs. no cases at the security checkpoint could face significant delays. An alternative measure is to fill out a complaint form available on the TSA website.


Published: April 6, 2012