Laptops in Checked-In Luggage

It’s a common question: Can I pack my laptop in checked-in luggage?

The general consensus is “no.”

To wit:

There’s nothing saying you can’t, however, I definitely wouldn’t pack my laptop in my checked luggage (especially if it was a decently nice or really nice one). Have you seen how the baggage handlers throw bags into the plane? I usually bring my laptop in a carry-on bag. Chelsea, Quora

It is OK to do so, but probably not recommended. The reality is that you have no control over your checked luggage once you turn it in. There are so many cases of people stealing items of value from checked luggage that it is no longer a surprise. I personally wouldn’t check anything of great value…hand carry the laptop and you can be assured it will arrive at your destination. David, Quora

I would never put anything of value in a checked bag. Aside from the risk of theft I don’t have great luck with misdirected luggage. P_M, Fodors Travel

Take it from the TSA. A representative from the agency offered this advice for flyers: “Electronics … should be packed in carry-on luggage because they are typically fragile, expensive, and more prone to breaking if transported in checked baggage.” The threat to your electronics is two-fold: you need to protect your devices from burglary (see above) as well as breakage. No matter how many beach towels you’ve wrapped around your laptop, it’s still at the mercy of baggage handlers and bumpy flights while in transit. The TSA, Smarter Travel

While it’s not illegal to pack a laptop in your checked baggage, the Transportation Security Administration advises against doing so. Your sensitive electronic devices weren’t made to withstand the abuse that checked bags often endure. This means that if you plan to fly with a laptop, you should carry it on the plane with you – and there are a few simple rules for doing so. The TSA, USA Today

Avoid placing electronic devices in checked baggage
There is a very simple way to avoid this problem-just don’t ever put your computer, tablet, mobile device, other electronics, or your electronic data in checked baggage. There is the obvious risk of a lost, damage, or stolen checked luggage, and airlines will not compensate you for lost or damaged computers, other electronic devices, or electronic data. Also, airlines often load bags on top of one another in the cargo hold of your flight. Hundreds of pounds of pressure in conjunction with the low temperatures in unheated cargo compartments may lead to cracks or damage to electronic devices.

[FlyerTalk] is chockablock with people who’ve lost valuable stuff from checked luggage and are out of luck because the airline points the finger at security services and vice versa. Anything you check is completely vulnerable to crooks in various uniforms. End of story. BearX220, FlyerTalk

… why shouldn’t you pack your notebook in a checked suitcase when you travel by plane? Here are three excellent reasons. James, PCWorld

Set against that litany of experiences and concerns, there are new restrictions for anything larger than a mobile phone on direct international flights into the United States from specific countries:

Airlines that fly from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa to the U.S. must soon require passengers to check in almost all electronic devices rather than carry them into the cabin, a U.S. official said.

The official said this will impact some airlines flying into the United States. Another U.S. administration official says this covers devices larger than a cellphone.

An aviation official told CNN that there is a security concern regarding passengers boarding nonstop flights to the U.S. from specific countries. This relates to the “screening in [some] countries” for nonstop flights to the U.S.

They added that they believe a threat to the U.S. would be negated if a passenger transferred through a secondary city with additional and more trustworthy screening procedures. The directive is to ensure enhanced security measures at select airports for a limited duration.


Net-net: the device is still carried on board, and almost everyone is inconvenienced while in flight and runs the risk of damage or theft of said devices.

Flow-on effects? Fewer visits to the United States? The purchase of new hardened checked-in luggage? The acquisition of new hardened laptop cases to go inside checked-in luggage? More insurance claims for damaged or lost devices?

Categories: Miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. I guess the primary questions are 1) what is more scrutinized the carry-on bags or the check-in luggage? 2) If there were a potential danger in laptops, would checking-in the device offer any degree of protection?