Can You Bring a Laptop On A Plane?

In an age where technology and connectivity have become extensions of our daily routine, the laptop has evolved to be as essential as a passport for many travelers. From preparing an important business presentation to streaming a favorite show, these portable computers are vital companions in transit. The ability to bring a laptop on a plane is not only a convenience but, for some, a necessity.

The guidelines for traveling with laptops have undergone significant changes since the early days of air travel, reflective of the evolution in both technology and security. Historically, laptops, like most electronics, were subject to stringent regulations during flight, primarily due to concerns over interference with aircraft equipment. However, with advancements in both airplane design and electronic devices, these rules have been relaxed. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States and equivalent bodies worldwide implemented new security measures, scrutinizing electronic devices with greater intensity at airport security checkpoints.

Today, laptops are a common sight in airport security lines, with travelers often asked to remove them from their bags for separate screening. This practice serves dual purposes: ensuring the safety of the flight from potential concealed threats, and protecting the laptop from damage as it travels through the x-ray conveyor. Understanding current policies regarding laptop transportation on airplanes is crucial for a hassle-free journey, as these regulations may vary by airline, the size of the aircraft, and the destination’s country-specific security protocols.

can you bring a laptop on a plane

Can You Take a Laptop On A Plane?

Yes, you can take a laptop on a plane. Laptops are considered personal electronic devices that you can carry on board in your hand luggage or checked baggage. However, it’s important to be aware of the airline’s specific regulations regarding the use of electronic devices during the flight, as well as any airport security measures that may require you to remove your laptop from its case for screening. Additionally, packing your laptop securely to protect it from damage and theft is crucial. For those traveling for business or wanting to stay connected, having your laptop can be a significant advantage, allowing you to work, watch movies, or play games during the flight. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the guidelines for traveling with a laptop, including tips for packing and handling your device while going through airport security.

Laptop Travel Guidelines on USA Domestic Flights

Traveling with laptops on USA Domestic Flights requires adherence to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines to ensure security and compliance with federal regulations. Passengers should be aware of the following points when planning to fly with their laptop:

TSA Laptop Screening Procedures

  • All laptops must undergo X-ray screening at security checkpoints.
  • Laptops should be removed from their carrying case and placed in a bin provided by the TSA.
  • TSA Pre✓® members may leave their laptops in bags that meet “checkpoint friendly” standards.

Additional information on TSA laptop screening can be found on the TSA website.

Packing Your Laptop for Travel

  • Use a padded laptop case or sleeve for extra protection against damage.
  • Charge your laptop before traveling to ensure it can be powered on if requested by security.
  • Back up important data in case of loss, theft, or damage during travel.

Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bags

TSA endorses the use of “checkpoint friendly” laptop bags, which can expedite the screening process. These bags have a designated laptop-only section that can lay flat on the X-ray belt, eliminating the need to remove your laptop from the bag.

Lithium Batteries and Power Banks

Laptops and other devices with lithium batteries are allowed in carry-on baggage. Spare lithium batteries and power banks, however, must be carried in carry-on luggage only, not checked baggage, due to their flammability.

FAA Regulations on Electronic Devices

  • The use of laptops during takeoff and landing is prohibited.
  • During the flight, passengers are usually permitted to use laptops when instructed by the flight crew.
  • Passengers must follow the flight crew’s instructions regarding when it is safe to use electronic devices.

Traveling Internationally with Your Laptop

If your domestic flight is a leg of an international journey, global entry requirements and customs regulations regarding laptops must also be considered. Make sure to research the specific country’s guidelines in advance.

Airline Policies on Laptops

In addition to TSA and FAA regulations, individual airlines might have their own policies regarding laptops and their use during flights. It’s advised to check with your airline for any specific requirements or restrictions that they may enforce.

For the most current guidelines and regulations regarding traveling with a laptop on domestic flights within the USA, consult the TSA website or contact the TSA helpline. Always check for updates close to your travel date as policies can change.

✔ Pros ✘ Cons
Continue working during your flight. Potential security concerns during screening.
Entertainment options such as movies or games. Risk of theft or damage to the laptop.
Stay connected with in-flight WiFi (if available). Additional weight to carry during travel.
Backup for any travel-related documents. Limited or no use during takeoff and landing.
May be required for work travel. Battery life constraints on long flights.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides guidelines for passengers traveling with laptops and other portable electronic devices (PEDs). These guidelines are designed to ensure safety and security during flights. According to IATA, passengers are generally allowed to carry laptops on board, but they must be screened separately during security checks. The guidelines also cover restrictions on the use of laptops during flights, particularly during takeoff and landing.

  • Laptops should be carried in carry-on baggage or on your person.
  • They must be removed from their cases and screened separately at security checkpoints.
  • Restrictions on the use of laptops during takeoff and landing should be adhered to.
  • Passengers should follow the crew’s instructions regarding the use of electronic devices.

For more detailed information, please refer to the IATA guidelines on their official website: IATA Website.

Country Specific Regulations

When flying internationally with a laptop, it’s crucial to be aware of the country-specific regulations that may apply. These regulations can vary significantly from one country to another and may affect how you pack and carry your laptop. Some countries have specific rules regarding the import and export of electronic devices, including laptops, which may involve security measures or restrictions on the type of technology you can bring into the country.

United Kingdom

  • Electronic devices may be subject to additional screening.
  • Passengers should ensure their devices are charged and can be powered on if requested.
  • Any device that cannot be turned on will not be allowed to fly.

For the UK government’s official guidelines, visit: UK Government Guidelines.


  • Passengers may be asked to turn on electronic devices at security checks.
  • Laptops should be removed from bags and placed in a separate tray during x-ray screening.

For more information on European regulations, please check: European Commission Aviation Security.


  • Laptops must be removed from their cases for screening.
  • Passengers are advised to charge their devices before arriving at the airport.

For Canadian regulations, refer to: Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.


  • Electronic devices may be subject to additional explosive trace detection screening.
  • Laptops must be presented out of their bags for x-ray screening.

For Australian guidelines, visit: Australian Government TravelSECURE.

New Zealand

  • Electronic devices are screened separately at security checkpoints.
  • Passengers should ensure their electronic devices are easily accessible.

For New Zealand’s regulations, check: New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.


Regulations in Asian countries can vary widely. Passengers should check with the relevant authorities of the specific country they are traveling to or from for the most accurate information.


  • Laptops must be removed from bags and screened separately.
  • There may be restrictions on the carriage of lithium batteries.

For Singapore’s regulations, refer to: Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

10 Airline-Specific Regulations for Flying with a Laptop

Different airlines may have their own specific regulations when it comes to flying with laptops. These rules can affect how you pack your laptop and what you may be asked to do during the security screening process. It’s important to check with your airline before traveling to ensure compliance with their policies.

American Airlines

  • Laptops must be removed from carry-on bags and placed in a bin for X-ray screening.

For more details, visit: American Airlines Carry-On Baggage.

Delta Air Lines

  • Passengers are encouraged to keep their laptops in carry-on luggage.
  • Special instructions may apply for flights to certain destinations.

For Delta’s regulations, check: Delta Air Lines Carry-On Baggage.

United Airlines

  • Laptops must be screened separately unless you are enrolled in TSA PreCheck.

For United’s policy, visit: United Airlines Carry-On Baggage.


  • Laptops and other electronic devices may be subject to additional security checks.

For Emirates’ guidelines, refer to: Emirates Cabin Baggage.


  • Laptops must be removed from bags and placed in a separate tray during security checks.

For Lufthansa’s baggage information, check: Lufthansa Carry-On Baggage.

Air France

  • Laptops must be taken out of bags and screened separately.

For Air France’s regulations, visit: Air France Hand Baggage.


  • Laptops should be removed from your hand baggage and placed in a tray for screening.

For KLM’s carry-on information, refer to: KLM Baggage Allowance.


  • Laptops must be screened separately at the security checkpoint.

For Qantas’ carry-on guidelines, check: Qantas Carry-On Baggage.

Cathay Pacific

  • Laptops must be removed from hand baggage and screened separately.

For Cathay Pacific’s baggage policy, visit: Cathay Pacific Cabin Baggage.

Singapore Airlines

  • Laptops may be subject to additional security checks.
  • Passengers are advised to have their laptops easily accessible for screening.

For Singapore Airlines’ carry-on baggage policy, refer to: Singapore Airlines Hand Baggage.

Packing a Laptop in Carry-On Luggage

When it comes to packing a laptop in your carry-on luggage, safety and accessibility are your top priorities. Here’s how to ensure your laptop stays protected and TSA-compliant:

  • Choose the Right Bag: Use a laptop bag with a dedicated and padded compartment. This adds a layer of protection and makes it easy to remove during security checks.
  • Use a Laptop Sleeve: For additional cushioning, place your laptop in a protective sleeve before securing it in the laptop compartment.
  • Keep It Accessible: Place your laptop in a location where it can easily be removed for security screenings, typically near the opening of your carry-on.
  • Charge Your Laptop: Ensure your laptop is charged in case airport security asks you to turn it on. It’s also practical for pre-flight work or entertainment.
  • Consider TSA PreCheck: Enrolling in TSA PreCheck can expedite the screening process, allowing you to leave your laptop in your bag.
  • Avoid Overpacking: Overstuffing your carry-on can put pressure on your laptop, potentially causing damage. Pack smart to protect your device.

taking laptops through airport security

Packing a Laptop in Hold Luggage

Packing a laptop in hold luggage is generally not recommended due to the potential for damage and increased risk of theft. However, if necessary, follow these steps:

  • Use a Hard-shell Case: Opt for a suitcase with a hard exterior to reduce the impact of any blows your luggage might sustain.
  • Secure Padding: Surround your laptop with sufficient padding, such as clothing or bubble wrap, on all sides within the suitcase.
  • Central Positioning: Place your laptop in the center of your suitcase, ensuring that there is a buffer of soft items between it and the suitcase walls.
  • Lock Your Luggage: Protect your device from theft by using a TSA-approved lock.
  • Backup Your Data: Before traveling, backup your data to cloud storage or an external drive as an extra safeguard against loss or damage.
  • Remove Batteries: If possible, remove the laptop’s battery to prevent it from turning on accidentally and to lower the risk of fire.
  • Label Your Luggage: Label your suitcase with contact information, in case it gets lost and needs to be returned.
  • Invest in Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers electronics to protect your investment against damage or theft.

Essential Gadgets for Air Travel

When traveling by plane, in addition to your laptop, you might consider bringing several other tech items to enhance your journey. A tablet can be a more portable alternative for entertainment or work, while an e-reader is perfect for catching up on books in a compact form. Noise-cancelling headphones are a traveler’s best friend, allowing you to enjoy music or movies without the distraction of engine noise. A portable power bank is crucial to keep all your devices charged, especially on long flights. Don’t forget a smartphone loaded with your favorite apps to stay connected and informed. Lastly, a smartwatch can keep you on schedule with flight alerts and boarding times right on your wrist.

FAQ’s About Can You Bring a Laptop On A Plane?

When it comes to air travel, many passengers like to bring their laptops along, whether for work, entertainment, or keeping in touch with friends and family. However, there can be some confusion about the rules and regulations surrounding the transportation of laptops on planes. This section provides answers to frequently asked questions to help travelers understand what to expect when flying with a laptop and how to prepare for a smooth journey.

Can I bring a laptop in my carry-on bag?

Yes, you can bring a laptop in your carry-on bag. It is actually recommended to keep valuable electronics in your carry-on luggage to prevent damage or loss.

Do I need to remove my laptop from my bag at airport security?

Typically, yes. TSA requires passengers to remove laptops from their bags and place them in a separate bin for X-ray screening. However, TSA Pre✓® members may be allowed to leave their laptops in their bags.

Is there a size limit for laptops brought on planes?

There is no specific size limit for laptops. However, your carry-on bag must still comply with your airline’s size restrictions. Be sure to check your airline’s guidelines for carry-on items.

Are laptops subject to additional security measures?

Occasionally, laptops may be subject to additional screening or swab tests for explosives. Follow the instructions provided by security personnel during the screening process.

Can I use my laptop during the flight?

Yes, you can use your laptop during the flight once the captain turns off the “fasten seatbelt” sign, indicating the use of larger electronic devices is permitted. However, laptops must be stowed away during takeoff and landing.

Will I need a special battery or power adapter for my laptop?

You should not need a special battery, but it is always a good idea to ensure your laptop’s battery is charged. If your plane has in-seat power, you may need an appropriate power adapter compatible with the airplane’s outlets.

Are there any restrictions on laptop batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries must typically be carried in carry-on luggage, and there are restrictions on batteries exceeding 100 watt-hours (Wh). If your laptop battery is over this limit, you may be required to gain airline approval to bring it on the plane.

Can my laptop stay inside a personal item bag beneath the seat during flight?

Yes, you can keep your laptop inside a personal item bag beneath the seat in front of you, as long as it does not obstruct aisle access and adheres to the airline’s size restrictions for personal items.

Are there any airlines that prohibit laptops on planes?

Generally, laptops are allowed on planes. However, certain airlines may have restrictions based on regulatory directives, particularly flights to and from specific regions. Always check with your airline before traveling.

What should I do if my laptop is damaged or stolen during a flight?

Report any damage or theft to the airline immediately. It is also advisable to have travel insurance that covers personal electronics to protect against these instances.

Packing It All Up

In conclusion, bringing a laptop on a plane is generally permissible under most airlines’ regulations and TSA guidelines. Travelers should be aware that laptops, like other electronic devices, must be removed from luggage and placed in separate bins during security screenings in the U.S. This process is crucial for the TSA to get a clear X-ray image and ensure the safety and security of all passengers. It’s important to stay informed about any changes in security protocols or airline policies, especially when traveling internationally where regulations may vary. Additionally, packing your laptop in a manner that complies with the airline’s carry-on size restrictions and protects the device from damage is essential for smooth travel.

Moreover, for those who opt to check their laptops, it is vital to understand the risks involved, including potential theft, damage due to rough handling, or temperature fluctuations. Some airlines might prohibit laptops in checked baggage, so it’s always best to carry them on board when possible. Ensuring your laptop’s battery is charged is also important in case of an overseas request to power it on. Ultimately, proper preparation and understanding the rules will lead to a stress-free experience when flying with your laptop. By taking these considerations into account, travelers can navigate the process with ease and keep their electronic devices safe and secure throughout their journey.