Long flights mean long periods of downtime. That's why it's so important for travelers to bring tons of entertainment onboard planes. One of the best methods for keeping away the boredom is an iPad, which offers endless opportunities to read, watch movies and TV shows and play games. The device is an essential travel companion, even if you're only heading out on a short journey. When carrying an iPad onboard a flight, be sure to follow all of the TSA's rules for electronics and security screenings.

What Is TSA?

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is responsible for protecting the transportation systems in the United States, including air travel. TSA is located in all domestic airports, and they're the ones who screen travelers before boarding. All U.S. airports require passengers to pass through TSA security checkpoints, which involve metal detectors and luggage X-ray screening. There are several rules travelers must follow when heading through airport security, including what must be removed from bags.

TSA Security and iPads 

In the past, TSA hasn't required passengers to remove iPads or other tablets from bags when going through the security checkpoints. However, in July 2017, the administration tightened the rules. Currently, all passengers must move any electronic device larger than a cellphone from luggage and place it in the bins for the X-ray screening. That includes iPads of all sizes. Place the iPad or tablet in its own bin with nothing above or below it, just as you would a laptop computer, to ensure a quick passage through security. It's fine to leave cases or covers on the iPad.

TSA Precheck

Travelers with TSA Precheck, an enrollment program that allows prescreened passengers to use expedited security lines, don't have to remove iPads from luggage when using designated TSA Precheck lines. The program is in over 200 airports and used by most airlines, so it's a good option for anyone who wants less stress and fewer long wait times at the airport. Opt into TSA Precheck on the TSA website. The program is good for five years and requires an application, processing fee and appointment to be fingerprinted. Travelers who are accepted into the program get a Known Traveler Number, which can be put into all airline reservations.

International Travel

TSA operates only within the U.S., so it's important to follow local security rules when traveling internationally. Most airport security lines around the world list rules and recommendations on signs or screens, so it's easy to know whether an iPad must be sent through separately from your luggage. Be sure to abide by any rules involving electronics to avoid special screening or delays.