Can You Pack a Laptop in Checked Baggage?

Yes, You can pack laptops in checked luggage. 

According to TSA regulations, travelers can pack laptops in either check-in or carry-on luggage. However, it’s better to pack laptops in carry-on baggage as it reduces the chances of loss or damage. 

Since most prefer a light carry-on bag, you may be wondering, are laptops allowed in a checked bag? In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not you can pack your laptop in checked luggage and if it’s a good idea. 

Should You Pack a Laptop in Checked Luggage?

You probably shouldn’t pack a laptop in checked luggage. Although it rids you of some weight, checking a computer means it can get damaged or lost. 

But let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of packing a laptop in a checked bag so you can make your own decision. 

Pros of Packing a Laptop in Checked Baggage

Convenience

One of the main reasons most of us pack laptops in checked baggage is convenience. If the goal is to travel as light as possible, packing laptops in hand luggage might not be the best idea.

Laptops Can Be Bulky

Not everyone works online or has tons of projects to jump on during travel. For some, checking a laptop makes more sense as it’ll create space for other items that can fit in the carry-on bag.

People who have heavy laptops will particularly prefer packing them in a checked bag. Powerful specs and heavy laptop batteries can take up much more space than their slimmer counterparts.

Cons of Packing a Laptop in Checked Baggage

Damage

When placed in the plane’s luggage compartment, the risk of your laptop getting damaged increases tenfold, if not a hundredfold. Think of turbulence, stacking, and handling by field personnel. 

The risks associated with checking your laptop far outweigh the pros of packing it in your carry-on. And while your computer could arrive unscathed, the chances of damage are usually high. 

Therefore, should you decide to pack your computer in checked baggage, be sure to store it in a strategic location. Put it in the mid-section part of your bag between clothes and other soft items to protect it from any impact.

Risk of Loss

It’s no secret that hundreds of checked bags get lost worldwide each year. This problem explains why the TSA, through its official website, advises against packing valuables in checked bags. 

Remember, TSA agents and baggage handlers will have better access to your checked luggage and can see what’s in your bag with the x-ray machine, thereby increasing the risk of theft. While the odds of theft occurring are usually minimal, it’s best to take the safer option by carrying your laptop and other valuables with you. 

Should You Pack a Laptop in Carry-On Baggage?

You should pack a laptop in hand luggage or take it as your personal item. While the TSA allows people to pack laptops in checked bags, the safest and most recommended place to store laptops and valuable items is in carry-on bags or in a laptop bag as your personal item. 

Not only will you have access to your laptop, but no one except you will touch it. Thus, there’s a much lower chance of damage. 

There’s also the possibility of theft. Not all airports have equally strict security measures, so you’ll want to err on the side of safety.

Finally, some flights into the US from the Middle East do not allow laptops as carry-on items.  Homeland Security introduced these restrictions on some Middle Eastern countries to reduce the risk of terrorist activity occurring on airplanes. 

How to Pack Laptop in Checked Luggage: Travel Tips

The most important of the TSA rules regarding laptops is that you must power off any laptop in checked baggage. This rule goes for all smartphones and other electronic devices capable of generating extreme heat in checked luggage. 

You have to have electronics devices completely powered off because there is a small risk of the lithium-ion batteries or the device’s heating element exploding or catching fire. Thus, you have to have these lithium batteries deactivated when they enter the cargo hold. 

Some airlines may have additional packing rules to prevent unintentional activation. 

However, you can have portable electronic devices powered on in hand luggage, even if they have lithium-ion batteries or lithium metal. 

You should also keep in mind that spare batteries and possibly other components of your laptop have to be in a carry-on suitcase. 

Additionally, make sure that you have tracking software enabled in case your computer gets lost. This monitoring software tells you if someone else uses your laptop. 

Finally, if you end up having to buy a new laptop before your flight, choose one labeled as SSD because these laptops don’t break as easily. 

How Many Laptops Can I Have in Checked Luggage?

In the United States, there is no regulation regarding how many laptops you can bring on a plane. However, you will have to place each in a separate bin when you go through x-ray screening. 

Meanwhile, on international flights, you may have to pay customs dues if you have more than one laptop. 

Domestic Laptop Regulations

For one, the FAA has banned 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017 because they contain a recalled lithium-ion battery. You can find more information on their faulty lithium battery and heating elements on many airline websites. 

Secondly, but importantly, you must have airplane mode turned on if you use your laptop inside the plane. 

Wrapping Up 

Most airlines will allow you to pack your laptop in checked or carry-on bags. However, it’s best to pack valuables in your carry-on bag as it reduces the chances of damage or loss. 

But if you must pack laptops in checked luggage, be sure to place them in a safe compartment in your travel bag. Sandwich your device between soft clothes, like light jackets, or bubble wrap to protect it from impact.

However, for best outcomes, you should pack your laptop in your carry-on bag. It’ll be a lot safer, and you’ll get to keep a close eye on it.

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