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  1. #1
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    Consistency of liquid and laptop screening policy?

    Hello folks! I wanted to ask about your experiences with how consistently border inspection agents (TSA and equivalent agencies) interpret the requirements and policies, and how that may affect the way you pack, and even what you use to pack in.

    As an example, I have a neoprene sleeve for my laptop, which gives an unobstructed view (it's equivalent to a Cache) on the scanner. Yet, in most countries I've visited with it, I'm asked to take the laptop out of the sleeve entirely. This clearly defeats the purpose of TSA-friendly sleeves and mechanisms. Interestingly, one of the countries where I've had to take the laptop out is my home country (Canada). So far, USA and Mexico are the only countries where I've been allowed to keep the laptop in the sleeve. Because of this, a criterion for when I get a new sleeve will be "how easy is it to take the laptop out of the sleeve quickly", which is rather odd

    Another example: Using the airport-provided 311 bags is wasteful and they don't always have them, so I keep a small supply, but these bags are really flimsy and only last 1 or 2 trips before getting punctures which defeats their purpose. I'd love to use a 3D clear org. cube which would be less wasteful in the long run, but I wonder if it'll be subject to the same inconsistency as the sleeve. TSA guidelines clearly state "Liquids [...] must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag". Since the 3D cube is not technically zip-top, one may be left at the mercy of the screening agent. Canada's equivalent agency (CATSA) says " All containers must fit in one clear, resealable plastic bag". So that leaves a bit more leeway as it doesn't have to be zip-top. But I wonder if anybody has experienced a too-strict inspection agent who didn't like a 3D cube. I could put stuff in a plastic zip-top bag and then place that inside the 3D cube, thus honoring the letter of the policy and keeping the bag more protected, but as is the case with the laptop sleeves, this is odd and negates the benefit of having the 3D cube in the first place.

    Anyway, apologies for the rant and I hope to hear from your experiences on this topic.

  2. #2
    Forum Member Rocks's Avatar
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    I have never had to take my 3-1-1 liquids out of my 3D Clear Organizer pouch. I've made many trips with it, too. As for a cache, I don't travel with a computer, but if I did, I'd be bummed to be asked to take it out!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadmr View Post
    Hello folks! I wanted to ask about your experiences with how consistently border inspection agents (TSA and equivalent agencies) interpret the requirements and policies, and how that may affect the way you pack, and even what you use to pack in.

    As an example, I have a neoprene sleeve for my laptop, which gives an unobstructed view (it's equivalent to a Cache) on the scanner. Yet, in most countries I've visited with it, I'm asked to take the laptop out of the sleeve entirely. This clearly defeats the purpose of TSA-friendly sleeves and mechanisms. Interestingly, one of the countries where I've had to take the laptop out is my home country (Canada). So far, USA and Mexico are the only countries where I've been allowed to keep the laptop in the sleeve. Because of this, a criterion for when I get a new sleeve will be "how easy is it to take the laptop out of the sleeve quickly", which is rather odd

    Another example: Using the airport-provided 311 bags is wasteful and they don't always have them, so I keep a small supply, but these bags are really flimsy and only last 1 or 2 trips before getting punctures which defeats their purpose. I'd love to use a 3D clear org. cube which would be less wasteful in the long run, but I wonder if it'll be subject to the same inconsistency as the sleeve. TSA guidelines clearly state "Liquids [...] must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag". Since the 3D cube is not technically zip-top, one may be left at the mercy of the screening agent. Canada's equivalent agency (CATSA) says " All containers must fit in one clear, resealable plastic bag". So that leaves a bit more leeway as it doesn't have to be zip-top. But I wonder if anybody has experienced a too-strict inspection agent who didn't like a 3D cube. I could put stuff in a plastic zip-top bag and then place that inside the 3D cube, thus honoring the letter of the policy and keeping the bag more protected, but as is the case with the laptop sleeves, this is odd and negates the benefit of having the 3D cube in the first place.

    Anyway, apologies for the rant and I hope to hear from your experiences on this topic.
    The "checkpoint friendly" laptop concept is mostly unique to TSA. Most places still require laptops to be fully removed from bags. Some even want tablets and e-readers separated. The 3D cube has almost universally been ok in the US, but Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia security all required the liquids be an a disposable zip-lock. Thankfully the Swiss had a pile of them and the guy helped me dump the contents from the 3D cube into one. I have since had the liquids, but not everything in the 3D cube, double-bagged so they could be pulled if asked.

  4. #4
    Forum Member bermudajes's Avatar
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    I only fly a few times a year, but I haven't had any trouble traveling with my 3D clear organizer as my 3-1-1 bag. In fact, I sometimes forget to take it out of my larger bag, and on those occasions I've never been stopped or asked to remove the 3-1-1 bag. (The only time I've been stopped is when an agent in Canada suspected that some of our bottles were over 100ml; they were not, and we went on our way without problem.)

    I never travel with a laptop. I was once asked to remove my iPad Mini from my bag to scan separately (the first time I flew with it, about three days after I got it) which surprised me, but I haven't had that happen again.

    ETA: I almost exclusively travel domestically (within the USA) so most of my experience pertains to interactions with the TSA.
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  5. #5
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    First....TSA is not border inspection. TSA is airline security. They have certain guidelines. Customs is border inspection and they can do whatever they like.

    TSA rules don't apply outside the U.S. While their rules might allow you to leave your computer in a sleeve, other will not only make you take it out but take out all of your electronics. Just because something is "TSA friendly" doesn't mean that's the rule everywhere else.

    Unless you have PreCheck, TSA rules say shoes and belts off. In many other countries you don't have to take your shoes off.

    As for the 3-1-1 bag, it's up to the inspecting agent. If he/she doesn't like 3D organizer, you'll have to put your stuff in a zip lock bag. I travel with a couple just for this reason although I now use a clear, plastic bag with a zipper top that mimics a ziploc only stronger. No problems with that.

    Remember, the rules can change anytime. If an agent wants your computer out of its sleeve, it's coming out of its sleeve. You can argue if you wish but that, I guarantee, will get you nowhere. Probably be sent to secondary and possibly even missing your flight.

    I pack with my 3-1-1 bag ready to come out if necessary and my computer as well. It not only makes it easier for airport security but it makes my life easier as well. The faster I can get through, the happier I am.
    Last edited by Frank II; 03-25-2015 at 01:03 PM.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  6. #6
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    "As an example, I have a neoprene sleeve for my laptop, which gives an unobstructed view (it's equivalent to a Cache) on the scanner. Yet, in most countries I've visited with it, I'm asked to take the laptop out of the sleeve entirely. This clearly defeats the purpose of TSA-friendly sleeves and mechanisms. Interestingly, one of the countries where I've had to take the laptop out is my home country (Canada). So far, USA and Mexico are the only countries where I've been allowed to keep the laptop in the sleeve. Because of this, a criterion for when I get a new sleeve will be "how easy is it to take the laptop out of the sleeve quickly", which is rather odd."

    I have been asked several times to remove my computer from theoretically TSA-friendly sleeves; I may have other arguments for sport, but that's one I choose to not bother with, so I just don't try this any more with a separate sleeve. I've been stopped only once (in Seattle!) and asked to remove my laptop from the Checkpoint Flyer, though; something about the construction there maybe triggers some portion of the lizard brain to understand that it is *specifically designed to sidestep this idiocy.*

    Re: "clear zip-top bag" -- well, the 3D organizer is plastic, is clear (not *completely* clear, but unambiguously "clear"), and has a genuine, no-foolin' *zipper* -- so I say it's therefore and literally a zip-top. If they want to specify that they only want bags that are made by the Zip-Lock Corporation, I'd point out that while "zip" is slightly ambiguous (does it take a zipper to zip? Evidently not ...), many of those bags are more like press-to-seal friction fit, rather than actually "zipping" at all.

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  7. #7
    Forum Member K9TB's Avatar
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    Flying out of Germany two weeks ago, I had to separate my IPad mini from its Apple case. All iPads and laptops had to go naked in the bin through the scanner.
    What's better than o-rings? More o-rings.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    First....TSA is not border inspection. TSA is airline security. They have certain guidelines. Customs is border inspection and they can do whatever they like.
    Right, it'd be the same if I took a domestic flight. I mostly travel internationally so I conflated them in my mind. But you're absolutely correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    TSA rules don't apply outside the U.S. While their rules might allow you to leave your computer in a sleeve, other will not only make you take it out but take out all of your electronics. Just because something is "TSA friendly" doesn't mean that's the rule everywhere else.
    Indeed but in my experience, other countries follow TSA's lead rather closely. I don't remember anybody asked to take electronics out of the bag until the US started doing it; then, everybody started asking for that too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Unless you have PreCheck, TSA rules say shoes and belts off. In many other countries you don't have to take your shoes off.

    As for the 3-1-1 bag, it's up to the inspecting agent. If he/she doesn't like 3D organizer, you'll have to put your stuff in a zip lock bag. I travel with a couple just for this reason although I now use a clear, plastic bag with a zipper top that mimics a ziploc only stronger. No problems with that.

    Remember, the rules can change anytime. If an agent wants your computer out of its sleeve, it's coming out of its sleeve. You can argue if you wish but that, I guarantee, will get you nowhere. Probably be sent to secondary and possibly even missing your flight.
    Oh, I never argue My inquiry was meant more as a guideline to how these nice Tom Bihn articles may or may not make the travel experience easier. For instance, based on this thread, I'm thinking a 3D organizer cube won't necessarily get me rid of the zip-top baggy, so perhaps the option is to use a more heavy-duty ziploc-like bag that will last me longer. On the other hand, a cache with its non-zippered flap sounds great for quickly taking the computer out "naked" when asked to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    I pack with my 3-1-1 bag ready to come out if necessary and my computer as well. It not only makes it easier for airport security but it makes my life easier as well. The faster I can get through, the happier I am.
    Ditto, I usually take a moment to unsleeve the computer prior to hitting the conveyor belt at the security point, and have the 311 bag in an outside open pocket. My whole aim is to make the agents' lives easier, which in turn makes mine easier too.

    Thanks so much for your feedback

  9. #9
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    I always put my liquids in a ziploc baggie, and then insert that into the 3d COQ. i just place the 3D in the bin. Only time I had do anything extra, was once at Heathrow. She handed me a plastic 311 bag and indicate dI should take my items out of the 3d cube( I guess she thought I looked like I was cheating by having too much). At any rate, as I pulled out the contents in one grab of the ziploc, she saw that I actually had a standard ziploc size bag of stuff, indicated I could just put the stuff back in 3d cube, and I went through security.

    My experience at multiple europe airports is that ipads must be taken out as well as laptops.

  10. #10
    Forum Member Pokilani's Avatar
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    I use this 3-1-1 bag. I think it's like Frank II describes. It looks like a ziploc, but it is really strong. I have never had a problem with it, domestically or internationally. It's not as flexible as a regular ziploc, but I've had it for at least 7 years without a single puncture. The "zip" popped off a couple of times, but I was able to slide it back in with a little effort. I've occasionally switched to a regular ziploc if I needed to save on space.
    "Exhaust the little moment.
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  11. #11
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    I use an opaque zip-top bag by RuMe. I have not travelled with it internationally, but on domestic flights I lay it in the security bin and have never been asked to take anything out. The bag can be washed by hand and contains spills well.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pokilani View Post
    I use this 3-1-1 bag. I think it's like Frank II describes. It looks like a ziploc, but it is really strong. I have never had a problem with it, domestically or internationally. It's not as flexible as a regular ziploc, but I've had it for at least 7 years without a single puncture. The "zip" popped off a couple of times, but I was able to slide it back in with a little effort. I've occasionally switched to a regular ziploc if I needed to save on space.
    This is the 3-1-1 bag I use......REI 3-1-1 Air Travel Liquids Bag - REI.com


    It has a clip so I can attach it via keystrap to an "o" ring.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  13. #13
    Forum Member Pokilani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    This is the 3-1-1 bag I use......REI 3-1-1 Air Travel Liquids Bag - REI.com


    It has a clip so I can attach it via keystrap to an "o" ring.
    I have that one too, but sometimes it's a little small.


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    "Exhaust the little moment.
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