With so many changes happening in the airline industry recently and certainly since the Covid era, understanding exactly what you can and cannot bring onto a commercial flight can be extra confusing!
So whether you're planning an online coursework sabbatical to get away from class distractions or simply need your laptop while traveling back home after college or university, one of the most important questions to answer is "Can I carry a laptop on a plane?’
Join me in my helpful article as I answer the question for you!
This post is all about answering the question: Can I carry my Laptop on a plane.
CAN I CARRY MY LAPTOP ON A PLANE?
First, we will get the mini takeaway so you can find out straight away whether you can carry your laptop on a plane.
In the US you can generally bring a laptop on domestic flights. It is important to check with the airline prior to traveling and make sure their rules allow for taking a laptop onboard. The TSA restricts the size of laptops carried onto aircraft, so it's wise to check their rules ahead of time.
Ok so with the mini answer in place, let’s head straight in and discover more detail!
Can I Carry A Laptop On A Plane USA?
The good news for all you busy college students out there is that yes, you can bring a laptop on most domestic flights in the United States!
Generally, laptops are allowed through security and can be taken as a carry-on item or stored in checked baggage.
However, it is important to check with your specific airline prior to travel to make sure that their rules allow for carrying a laptop onboard.
It’s worth understanding too that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) restricts the size of laptops carried onto aircraft, so it's wise to double-check what their rules are well ahead of time.
So providing your laptop meets TSA guidelines and the requirements of your particular airline, you should have no problem bringing it on board!
Ok so is there anything else you should be aware of when doing some extra cramming for a review or even a finals exam while flying?
Read on to discover more.
Tips for Carrying Your Laptop on a Plane
Here are some tips to help you carry your laptop on a plane safely and with ease:
- Make sure your laptop is charged before you leave for the airport, as during the screening process the TSA officers may ask you to turn it on to prove that it is a working device.
- Pack your laptop in a protective case or sleeve to prevent damage during transport.
- Consider investing in a TSA-approved lock for your laptop bag, which can help keep your device safe while it's out of your sight.
You might need to turn your laptop on
Along with restrictions concerning the size of your laptop, some airlines may require extra security steps when taking a laptop on board an airplane.
For example, you may be required to turn on your laptop during the security check if it is not already turned on.
This applies both while passing through the check at the airport and also when going through customs. So it’s always a really good idea to make sure that your laptop is charged before arriving at the airport - just in case they need you to turn it on!
“you may be required to turn on your laptop during the security check if it is not already turned on.”
Why do we need our laptops turned on?
Generally, when ready to get on a plane in the US we will be asked to turn our laptops on for security and customs as we found out earlier.
There are a few reasons for this. One is that the airport personnel will be checking for certain documents like forged passports or visas which could also lead to more serious charges if people were allowed to pass through undetected.
The airport authorities also use the laptop’s light-up screens to quickly identify any prohibited items or documents in the laptop, such as drugs or guns, that otherwise wouldn’t be detected by X-ray machines.
Turning on your laptop might seem like a huge inconvenience with so many other regulations to remember! but it is a vital security measure.
So as we’ve discovered, the TSA does have specific guidelines when it comes to the size of the laptop you have. It’s important to understand this before jetting off!
What size laptop can I carry on a plane?
When it comes to flying with a laptop, the most important thing to think about is that all laptops should fit comfortably into your carry-on luggage.
Most domestic flights within the US will restrict the size of the laptop you can bring on board.
According to TSA rules and guidelines, laptops should be able to fit inside your carry-on bag and not exceed any single dimension of more than 16 inches and a total outside linear dimension of 45 inches.
So it's best to measure your laptop before packing it so you don't get stuck at security!
Before arriving at your gate, make sure your laptop is fully charged because many airports require powered-up devices during security screenings.
If you're bringing a lithium battery pack for charging, you should also prepare yourself for additional checks as batteries are considered hazardous materials and follow specific guidelines set by the TSA.
For most straightforward cases, a laptop charger is allowed in your carry-on or checked bags.
However, due to the restrictions on lithium batteries, certain specific items may not be allowed onboard for safety reasons.
This includes power banks, phone chargers, and jump starters with a power capacity exceeding 160Wh and lithium-ion batteries with an energy capacity of more than 100Wh.
Be sure to check which of your battery-powered equipment falls into this category before packing it in your luggage!
So as we’ve seen your laptop can be taken onboard in your carry-on luggage. So let’s find out what that means so you can be sure you are following all the guidelines!
How Many Laptops Can You Take on a Plane?
The number of laptops you can take on an airplane in the US depends on the airline you are flying with and their specific policies.
Be sure to check with the airline before packing your personal computer or any other personal electronic devices as you will need airline approval. Also check the TSA website for their guidance on laptop computers on their plane.
Carry-on items such as Laptops, similar to smart phones have to pass security checks due to the fact that they run on lithium ion batteries, lithium metal. They may pose a security risk if they have non-removable batteries, so TSA security may not allow you to take it with you on the plane.
If they do, then you’ll have to put it in a separate bin during the screening at airport security.
If they will allow you to take more than one laptop, then you may have to pay extra cost when you check-in luggage.
In the end, it may be cheaper to either bring less stuff and just buy a new laptop when you get to where you are going (providing its a one way trip). Otherwise, coming back you may have the same issues at the security checkpoint on your way back.
What is ‘carry-on’ luggage?
Generally, U.S. airlines allow passengers to bring items such as small personal items and a suitcase or bag that fits in the overhead bin or under the seat.
Most American Airlines allow bags that are no more than 22 x 14 x 9 inches and weigh less than 40 pounds per bag.
This usually includes one personal item such as a laptop, hand baggage or backpack, so make sure you check with the airline before you fly!
Once these size restrictions are met, passengers can fill their carry-on with items including electronics such as laptops, tablets, consoles, and mobility aids.
All sharp objects must be stored in checked baggage with some exceptions such as scissors with pointed tips no longer than four inches in length.
As many airlines have slightly different rules about carry-on luggage, always make sure you check with your airline before boarding for any specific regulations they may have regarding carry-on luggage.
“Most American Airlines allow bags that are no more than 22 x 14 x 9 inches and weigh less than 40 pounds per bag”
International Travel Considerations
If you are traveling internationally, it's important to keep in mind that the rules for carrying laptops on planes may vary depending on the country you are visiting. Some countries may have stricter regulations or may not allow laptops to be carried in certain circumstances.
Make sure you check the regulations of the country you are visiting before you travel to avoid any issues.
Can I Carry A Laptop On A Plane – To end with
So to wrap this topic up, In summary, it is generally possible to bring a laptop on a plane in the USA.
However, don’t forget to thoroughly check out TSA regulations and check with your airline ahead of time for any additional restrictions or rules related to laptops and chargers.
So by following my advice, as a college student, you can make sure that your laptop travels safely and securely while still allowing you to use it during your trip!
Finish that coursework or hit some study goals while traveling! So go ahead - pack up your laptop and hit the skies! Bon-voyage!