How Can I Take Electronic Equipment on a Plane?
In today's wired world, being separated from your personal electronics ranges from boring to disastrous. So it's no big surprise that airlines have become increasingly friendly to the use of portable electronics in flight, with some even offering satellite internet to help keep you connected. But first you need to get through the Transportation Security Administration screening checkpoints, which include clear-cut rules for screening all manner of electronics, including medical electronic devices.
Check It or Carry It On?
The Transportation Security Administration quite rightly recommends keeping your personal electronics in your carry-on luggage. This not only gives you quick access but makes your electronics much harder to steal. If you do have to put electronics in your checked baggage, secure your bag with a TSA-friendly lock that allows TSA agents into your bag for screening if necessary, but impedes access by others. If you use a non-TSA-approved lock, TSA agents may cut it off as part of the screening process, leaving your bag vulnerable to would-be thieves.
Getting Through Security
Don't pack your electronics too far down in your carry-on. Anything larger than a smartphone must come out of your bag at the security checkpoint so it can be screened individually. If you're carrying a TSA-friendly bag, you won't have to worry about this. It will have a separate compartment for your electronics, which can be opened so the electronics have nothing above or below them to impede screening. Additionally, members of the TSA Pre-Check program enjoy several perks, including the ability to breeze through the checkpoint without unpacking electronics.
If you're packing electronics in your checked luggage, remove any spare lithium batteries and carry them on with you. This includes the rechargeable batteries you'll find in laptops, in some digital cameras and also in portable power banks that you might use to recharge your electronics on the go.
Traveling With Medical Electronics
The Transportation Security Administration trains its officers to be respectful in their treatment of people who have personal medical electronic devices like pacemakers, neurostimulators and insulin pumps. That said, these devices can affect how you navigate the screening procedure. If you want to avoid discussing your device in public, download a notification card to show to a TSA agent. Let the agent know about your medical device before the screening process starts, and be prepared to go through the millimeter wave scanner or to receive a pat-down screening instead of going through a metal detector. If you use an insulin pump, the TSA agent may require you to do a self pat-down of your own pump, but they shouldn't require you to disconnect from it.
If you want support during the screening process due to having a personal medical electronic device, keep in mind that the TSA offers a help line to answer your questions and provide assistance, including arranging an escort from a passenger support specialist.
If It Fits, It Goes
All right: You've made it through the security screening checkpoint, and now it's time to board the plane. Airlines can impose their own regulations about what does and doesn't go in the cabin of the plane, but as a general rule, they'll allow anything through that passes the TSA checkpoint. Just don't overpack, thinking you'll breeze past the gate with your laptop under your arm; if you're carrying too many items, or if they're larger than the carry-on limits imposed by your airline, you may be asked to gate-check some of what you've tried to carry on.
While On the Plane
Once you're on the plane, you're free to use your portable electronics until the flight crew readies the plane for departure. At that point, most airlines require that laptops be stowed under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. However, most airlines will let you hold onto smaller electronic devices, as long as they're put in airplane mode and are unplugged from airplane power during takeoff and landing.