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Why Do Laptops Need To Be Removed From Hand Luggage At Airport Security?


  • Airport security regulations have changed since 9/11 to prevent self-made explosives, leading to restrictions on liquids and the need to remove laptops and electronic devices from carry-on luggage.
  • Removing laptops from bags helps security personnel see internal components and detect potentially dangerous items. It also prevents X-ray blockage and allows for the demonstration of functionality if requested.
  • Next-gen scanners, already implemented in some airports, can view carry-on luggage from multiple angles and eliminate the need for separate laptop checks.

Prior to the tragic events of 9/11, airport security allowed passengers to pass through with bags containing everything one might need for a holiday, including knives, liquids, and various electronic devices. But since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there have been changes to airport security regulations in order to avoid self-made explosives.

Liquids are now permitted in carry-on baggage if they are not more than 100 milliliters (although, with the implementation of new scanners, this rule is being scrapped across major airports). Also, laptops and other electronic devices must be taken out of hand luggage for screening. In this article, we will explain the reasons behind these rules.

The explanation

The main reason you must remove your laptop from your bag is that its battery and mechanical components are too dense for X-rays to pass through easily, especially with older airport scanning systems. The same applies to power cords and other devices like tablets and cameras.

Airport security screening

Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

Having a laptop inside a bag can also block the view of other items that could be potentially dangerous. Scanning it separately allows the security personnel to see its internal components clearly on the screen. In certain situations, you might be requested to turn on the laptop to demonstrate that it is functional.

Furthermore, it is crucial to understand that all laptop batteries are made of highly flammable lithium-ion material. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a warning regarding the potential overheating of laptop batteries if stored in the cargo hold of an aircraft. Here’s what the FAA had to say about devices containing lithium batteries:

“Devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) should be carried in carry-on baggage. Flight crews are trained to recognize and respond to lithium battery fires in the cabin. Passengers should notify flight crew immediately if their lithium battery or device is overheating, expanding, smoking, or burning.”

Next-gen scanners

Once airports worldwide adopt next-gen scanners capable of viewing carry-on luggage from multiple angles, the inconvenience of removing laptops will become a thing of the past. In fact, some of the airports, to many passengers’ delight, have already implemented them. These airports include Milan Linate (LIN), Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO), and Eindhoven Airport (EIN), just to name a few.

airport security check

Photo: TonyV3112/Shutterstock

These advanced scanners can effectively determine whether something is being concealed, eliminating the need for a separate laptop or other electronic device checks. According to Smiths Detection, which specializes in threat detection and security screening technologies, the tech not only eliminates the need for removing electronic devices but also reduces the rate of tray handling, significantly trimming the screening time per passenger.

The new security scanners have been instrumental in reducing queues at many airports, which were a significant issue during the post-pandemic period when most airports faced understaffing challenges.

What are your thoughts on airport security rules? Have you ever seen the new security scanners at airports? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sources: FAA,


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