I’m all in favor of anything that gets me through airport checkpoints easier and faster. So after looking through the field of checkpoint-friendly laptop bags, I was eager to try out Tom Bihn’s new Checkpoint Flyer. And soon I was flying through security.
With the Checkpoint Flyer, I don’t have to take my laptop out of the case as it goes through x-ray screening. And since I carry a laptop on almost every trip, that makes a big difference.
Look, I’m already fumbling around enough getting out my boarding pass and ID, taking off my shoes and jacket, emptying my pockets, stowing the cell phone and taking out the liquids. Besides saving time, this bag gives an extra measure of protection to my laptop. That’s important, since I had a hard drive that never worked again after a rough ride through the x-ray machine.
Tom Bihn came up with an ingenious design for the Checkpoint Flyer. The laptop, by itself, slides into a foam-padded, weather-resistant case. For normal carrying, the case fits between a front flap with two pockets and a separate, zippered compartment that includes plenty of room and pockets for carrying and organizing cables, chargers, music players, sunglasses and other things I like to keep handy on a flight.
The magic happens when two straps are unbuckled—it only takes a few seconds. Then the laptop case can lie flat on the x-ray belt and go through alongside the rest of the bag. See how it works with Tom Bihn’s animated pictures here.
The laptop sleeve meets TSA requirements because it gives the x-ray screener an unobstructed view. Just remember to put cords and everything else in the other part of the bag. Only the laptop goes in the padded case.
Four different sizes are available to fit popular models of laptops. You can even buy the Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Case separately if you carry different computers. Any size of the laptop case will clip to the rest of the bag.
The bag fits easily under the seat on the plane, so it can be carried on as a personal item in addition to a larger bag for the overhead bin.
The Checkpoint Flyer looks great, too. It’s available in four colors and sells for $220. There are cheaper checkpoint-friendly bags on the market. But Tom Bihn has a reputation for quality and the bags are meticulously made in Seattle. Consider it an investment that will last a long time.
Some optional accessories I’d recommend include the Absolute Shoulder Strap ($30)—easy on the shoulder, with just the right amount of “give” for comfortable carrying. The strap has an internal control-stretch system which Tom Bihn has patented.
If you’re carrying lots of papers, pens and other accessories, the Horizontal Freudian Slip ($35) will keep things organized.
I’ve carried Tom Bihn’s Checkpoint Flyer all over the country recently and it sailed through the x-ray machine every time. In Nashville, I even felt a twinge of sympathy for a guy in the next lane who was fumbling around with wire spaghetti as he removed his laptop from the case. He needed one of these.
See all our Tom Bihn gear reviews
John Gordon is a Texas-based video producer who travels extensively in search of interesting stories. Technology plays a big role in his work, from digital recording to uploading photos and videos from far-flung places.
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