Going through airport security with two laptops

It sounds super fun, right? Loading your purse or briefcase down with not one, but two laptops during travel. It makes your bag insanely heavy, you have to remember multiple chargers, and, adding to the joy, evidently you may need to take them both out at security.

What’s that? you say. Take my laptops out of my bag?  Isn’t not having to take out my laptop the whole point of TSA Pre-check?

My answer is, maybe. It depends.  I am one of the lucky ones who must travel with two laptops on certain trips. It’s not easy, especially since one of them has a whopping 17-inch screen. I’ve taken four or five trips with both laptops over the past couple of years, and while there are certainly plenty of challenges, airport security has, to this point, not been one of them.

This changed last month. I was going through security in Phoenix (I think, I took so many trips last month that it’s all kind of running together). Just like every other trip I hefted my small suitcase and purse  onto the security belt, went through the metal detector without any problem, and moved to wait for my bags. It took longer than normal, but they finally pulled my (enormous, reserved only for two-laptop trips) travel purse out and asked who it belonged to. When I answered that it was mine, they asked if I had two laptops in there. I kind of felt like an idiot but said, “Yes, is that not okay?” She answered that two laptops together often looked like a bomb, and they would pull them out and send them through separately to be sure. Of course they went through just fine, and I was on my way.

Here is the frustrating thing. When I’ve gone through airport security with two laptops in other locations there has been no problem. I’ve seen others in the Pre-check line try to pull their laptops out of their bag and they’re told not to. So there is basically no way to preempt this; you just have to assume it’s okay until they tell you it’s not. Yay for consistency!

Readers, do you travel with two laptops? Have you had any issues going through security?


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  1. Funny that you mention an airport in AZ. The Tucson airport doesn’t even have a pre-check line (or at least it didn’t the last time I was there), so it’s shoes-off, laptop(s) out, etc. And it’s one of the rare instances when experienced travelers have as many problems as inexperienced travelers because we are used to our pre-check processes.

  2. I travel with 2 laptops all the time. About 4 years ago, I was told in LGA (I think) that I can’t run both in at the same time, I have to take one out. From that point on, I did. Then leaving out DFW (home base) an agent asked me what I was doing. I said I was told I had to take one them out. He told me that wasn’t necessary. So since then, I leave both laptops in my bag. Since then, I think twice and both times were at LGA, that I can’t have both laptops in my bag. My repsonse, “Ok”. I dont argue, I just stand there and act surprised. I will always get both laptops in my bag.

  3. My experience is about 50% enforcement of not allowing 2 laptops in the same bag at tsa pre. I think that’s the same % for knives at ewr. I’ve learned to just smile, be polite and realize tsa simply can’t be any better.

  4. Yes! I have two laptops and travel internationally since I’m a digital nomad. I have to lug a super heavy outdated work laptop and then my own personal mac. I really don’t like doing personal things on my work laptop like checking bank accounts, blogging or facebook. I also don’t like to stream netflix on my work laptop. Basically, I don’t do anything but work on my work laptop in case Big Brother is watching. This has been a royal pain because I’m always concerned my hotel will get burglarized (as I’m a solo female traveler) and it makes my backpack bag insanely heavy. I also carry tons o f cables (2 laptop chargers, 2 laptop cable locks, 2 iphone charging cables (one long one for my room and one short one for my power bank), 2 micro chargers (one long one for my room and one short one for my power bank), bluetooth earbuds, backup earbuds with regular jack in case my bluetooth work jabra headset farts out, backup earbuds for iPhone 7 lightning jack in case my bluetooth earbuds fart out, small charger for my waterproof ipod for the beach destinations, charger for my sonicare toothbrush, and charger for my portable water pick. So THAT’s alot of wires. I haven’t ever been stopped in US if I’m traveling domestically (or even when departing internationally) but I did have problems in UK and Europe if I didn’t take all the wires in all the different bags out. It’s a pain in the butt. And I can’t have them all in one bag because then that would be huge. So, I haven’t had issues when I pull out my separate laptops, but the wires/cables have tripped me up in security before.

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