The simple answer to the question “can you bring a laptop on a plane?” is yes. When you are traveling on a commercial flight, you have permission to carry your laptop with you. It is actually quite normal to see many commercial flight travelers with a laptop these days.
A few years ago, it was a different story. Airport security considered laptops to be a risk on commercial flights and you would generally have to pack them with your check-in luggage. Nevertheless, times have changed and now bringing a laptop onboard is an acceptable practice.
Sometimes there may be a Laptop Ban
From time to time, airport security or the airliner itself may impose a laptop ban. You need to check that no ban is in place before you try to board the plane with your machine. Check the official websites of airport security and the airline that you are traveling with.
Please understand that airport security or the commercial airline can impose a ban on laptops at any time and without providing any reason. They will not do this unless they have a good reason, which is usually for security. If this happens to you, just accept it and be grateful that they are taking your security seriously.
How is your Laptop Bag viewed in terms of Carry On Luggage?
With most airlines, you can bring one piece of luggage on board with you and a personal item. Your laptop bag with your laptop inside would generally be classified as a personal item. However, be aware that things can change if your flight is full.
When a commercial flight has a full passenger load, space for carry-on luggage is at a premium. So you may find that the airline insists that you store your laptop bag in front of your seat during takeoff and landing, for example. We cannot say for sure here what restrictions an airline may impose because it will depend on the individual airline and the situation.
If an airline tells you that you can’t bring your bag and your laptop as carry-on luggage, we recommend checking your bag in and just taking your laptop onboard. The last thing that you want to do is to check in your laptop as luggage.
Bags checked in as luggage tend to experience pretty rough handling by baggage personnel. They normally work against the clock and want to move the baggage around as fast as possible. Your laptop is unlikely to withstand this kind of treatment. There have been many cases of broken laptops checked in as luggage with commercial airlines.
Then there is the risk of theft. If baggage handlers see a laptop bag, there is going to be a temptation. We are not trying to say anything wrong about baggage handlers here, but you want to have your laptop in your sight at all times. You wouldn’t leave your laptop unattended at the airport, would you?
Going through Security with your Laptop
The first thing to say here is that security check rules at airports often change. Even if you are on a domestic flight in the same country, you can find that the security checks are different at both airports. You need to stay calm and just accept that things are different. Do not be tempted to argue with the security personnel. This can land you in a lot of trouble!
The airport security personnel will likely request that you remove your laptop from its bag. They will usually ask that you place your laptop in one of the bins used at the security check-in. Do not get upset about this. You could have anything in your laptop bag, so airport security needs to be sure that everything is safe.
In some situations, an airport security officer may ask you to turn on your laptop. If airport security asks you to do this, then just do it! Showing any reluctance to comply will single you out as a potential security threat. Usually, they will just want to check that the laptop boots normally with the Windows or Mac operating system. It is just routine.
There have been several laptop cases stolen around airport X-ray machines, so always keep an eye on your computer. Some people believe that an airport X-ray machine will damage their laptop but this is not the case.
Once the airport security has checked your laptop, then place it back in your laptop bag and move on quickly. If you are taken to one side for an additional check (such as turning your laptop on) then don’t take this personally. Just comply with any requests and be grateful that tight security checks exist at the airport.
Using your Laptop On Board the Plane
You cannot use your laptop when the aircraft is taking off or coming into land. The airline staff will tell you this and advise when you need to turn your machine off. Some electronic equipment can interfere with the electronics of the aircraft, so be sure to comply with these requests.
When you get to your seat, we recommend that you store your laptop (in its bag) under the seat that is in front of you. You will be able to access your laptop easily during mid-flight when you do this. We strongly recommend that you do not store your laptop in the overhead bin. It is likely to experience a lot of abuse from other passengers cramming their hand luggage in there.
Only put your laptop in the overhead bin if it is absolutely necessary. You should find that in most cases, you could store your laptop where you sit. A laptop in an overhead bin is unlikely to come out of the ordeal unscathed. Laptops break easily, so do whatever you can to keep it by your side.
The airline staff will let you know when you can use your laptop. Many commercial airlines have an optional WiFi service, which you can use for a fee. This will enable you to use your laptop to browse the Internet and send emails. You can expect to pay a significant amount for WiFi access aboard a commercial airline.
If you don’t want to pay for Internet access, then we recommend that you have some videos downloaded on your laptop you can watch during the flight. Take some time out before you travel to organize this. Some businesspeople will need WiFi access so that they can keep in touch with their office, for example.
Using Airplane Mode
The point of using airplane mode on your laptop is to disable all wireless services that could interfere with the aircraft during takeoff and landing. When you enable airplane mode on your laptop you will turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and any mobile data.
Find out how to use airplane mode on your laptop before you travel. Sometimes this is a physical switch on the machine that turns it on and off. In other cases, you will need to use a key combination such as the “Fn” key and one of the function keys like F5.
If you have Windows 10, then you can use this to turn airplane mode on or off. First, you need to access the “Action Center,” which you can do using the Windows key and “A”. You will then see an icon for airplane mode so click on this. Now you can turn airplane mode on or off.
You can bring your laptop with you when you travel by airplane. Nevertheless, it would be best to observe the rules in place at the airport and onboard the flight. We always recommend that you use a proper laptop bag to carry your laptop in. It will help to protect your computer and keep all of your accessories in one place.
Different airports will have different rules when it comes to security checks for laptops. Whatever security personnel request you do in regards to your laptop you need to comply. Remove your laptop from its bag for X-ray scanning. If a security officer requests you to switch on your laptop then be sure to do this. It will just be a routine check.
Never try and use your laptop during takeoff and landing. This can be dangerous. Just wait a few minutes until you are inside the airport terminal. Follow all of the security rules and you should have no problems with taking and using your laptop on a commercial flight.