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Why you should often take your MacBook out of your bag when flying

Right before you fly, you have to go through the security check at the airport. Shoes have to come off, belts have to come off, and your MacBook has to be taken out of your bag at many airports. Those first two things are understandable, but why does your computer always have to be out of your carry-on luggage? Here’s the answer.

At the security check at the airport, it sometimes seems like a fashion show. Not only do people take off and put on all kinds of garments, such as a jacket or shoes, but entire bags have to be emptied before you fly. Especially your MacBook has to go, but why?

Why does that macBook have to be taken out of your bag when you fly?

Flying used to be pretty relaxed. There were security checks, but they didn’t amount to much. That changed rigorously after 9/11. Hijackers could bring their weapons on board, and that led to two planes crashing into the World Trade Center.

Such an attack obviously never had to happen again, and so any potential danger had to be detectable. Anything that looked like a weapon really wasn’t allowed to be carried again. Even liquids and things like a laptop or a phone had to be taken out of the bag and put loose in a container. Why does your MacBook still have to be taken out of your bag at many airports?

It has everything to do with the machines the security services use to check your luggage before you fly. Laptops and tablets are often built too dense. The X-rays from the machines don’t get through there, so people could smuggle a weapon or something else. And that, of course, is a safety hazard aboard an airplane.

When a MacBook is scanned separately, parts do show up. To make sure nothing is smuggled inside, security personnel may ask you to remove the computer from your bag before flying.

It seems to be a thing of the past at the airport

Fortunately, you no longer have to take your MacBook out of your carry-on luggage when you fly anywhere by a long shot. At Schiphol Airport, for example, it is no longer necessary. The airport now has special CT scanners that can scan luggage from multiple angles. That way they can actually look through the MacBook.

Should the security officer still not trust it, they can always take the luggage apart to just examine it by hand now.

The new machines are much more convenient. Because not everything is taken out of a bag, there are fewer jams. In the future, AI will probably make this process even faster and almost no human will have to be involved when you fly. The computer can then just recognize if something is wrong.

Until then, you will still be searched occasionally. Not the most fun thing you experience during a flying vacation, but at least it makes flying safer.

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