A traveler reports that the TSA freaked out over his new Macbook Air when he brought it through security. Apparently the guy manning the x-ray was alarmed at the alleged laptop’s lack of a hard-drive and ports on the back. [Engadget]


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  1. Buran says:

    And now you have it. Innovation is a terrorist threat!

  2. Anitra says:

    Who hires these idiots?

  3. Mollyg says:

    The TSA guys is not to blame. He was probably just doing what he was trained to do; to flag items that are out of the norm, such as laptops without hardrives.

  4. robotprom says:

    I thought it was the lack of an optical drive, not a hard drive, that confused the TSA agent.

  5. humphrmi says:

    @robotprom: Hard to say, the article only said “lack of a drive” but since what the Macbook Air lacks is a hard drive, I would assume that’s what set them off.

  6. MercuryPDX says:

    I don’t understand what the BFD is. All he needs to do is determine “Is it explosive or not?”, not debate over whether or not it’s a computer without a hard drive and ports or something else.

  7. humphrmi says:

    @MercuryPDX: What they’re worried about is someone using a fake laptop to smuggle unapproved items on board. But aside from explosives, the X-Ray would have shown any other contraband. So yeah, ask why it doesn’t have a hard drive, then swab it for explosives, and be done with it. But obviously this TSA agent was a pinhead.

  8. Open it up and turn it on. Besides, as thin as it is, if it turns on and functions, is there room for anything boom-y?

  9. NoWin says:


    Your comment requires the TSA agents to utilize an actual thought-process on their half, or invoke a degree of “common sense.”

  10. bradanomics says:

    oh brother.

  11. Karl says:

    I was just thinking about this the other night. I was wondering what the TSA would think of the XO laptop — no hard drive, non-standard construction, etc. Apparently, SSDs are too high-tech for the TSA. Nevertheless, I’ll probably take mine on my next flight, and will be sure to check in early.

  12. cmdr.sass says:

    Thank Congress for leaving airport security up to the dumbest members of our society. Remember kids, stay in school.

  13. petrarch1604 says:

    at least he didn’t throw it away with the newspapers

  14. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    At least the guard did’nt yell “LOOK OUT IT’S A GOD DAMN BOMB!!” and dive under a table. Because then he would’ve made the travelers life miserable for bringing something that made the guard look foolish. And I suspect the guard only knows Windows applications and thinks apple fans are snobbish.
    (In the holding area) Guard: “So you think you’re pretty cute, huh?…Bringing this contraption and causing a disturbance?…Is that how you get off?, you apple homos make me sick, all of you” I hate it when guards get all “flabbergasted” when presented with something different. Like the one time at a concert when I had a can of evian water. The “hosts” and “guards” tried to confiscate it from me because they thought I would use the flammable liquid inside to set depeche mode on fire. *rolls eyes*

  15. K-Bo says:

    @NoWin: Not trying to be sarcastic here, but I’m guessing using common sense is a good way to loose your job at the TSA, and lets face it, if you are working at the TSA to begin with, you probably don’t have 5 backup jobs lined up.

  16. weave says:

    Back in the late 90s I got the first portable mp3 player, a RIO PMP300 player. I went into a US court house and got grilled about it. I said it was an mp3 player and the guard wanted to know where I put the tape in. I had to leave it behind with them and collect it when I left.

  17. Nighthawke says:

    They don’t get out much do they?

  18. DrGirlfriend says:

    Classic case of fearing that which you do not understand.

    Which is something that is becoming more and more pervasive in our society lately.

  19. NoWin says:

    @K-Bo: Oh I agree! and that’s the rub. They (TSA) get what they pay for, and we (the travelers) must suffer the consequences as a result.

  20. ElizabethD says:

    Some of us are copping an attitude here about the “kind of person” working for TSA and what cultural morons they must be.

    Think about it. Macs are expensive relative to other PCs. The people earning low wages in these jobs probably don’t know or care much about news from Apple Inc. Unless they’ve been briefed by TSA in advance, they won’t understand the nature of the new Macbooks.

    So, rag on TSA, but let’s forgo the elitist wisecracks about the frontline employees, eh?

  21. Pro-Pain says:

    I love how some of you idiots that post here think everyone should be so inclined to learn about the latest gay tech. in laptop land. Who f’n cares??? So the TSA gentleman had no clue about the new gay ass Apple overpriced Macbook AirJordans or whatever…big deal. *rolls eyes*

  22. diggity says:

    Yeah, but how many MacBook Air ads to they have up in the Airport? In Chicago, they are on practically every street corner and bus stop.

  23. matto says:

    @ElizabethD: Why? They’re the detritus of the economy, losers with no education who couldn’t manage to get a job that benefits society. They use their little badge to bully the rest of us around, and teach us lessons about who’s in charge. The country would be a better place if we rounded all of them up and shipped them to Gitmo.

  24. nequam says:

    @humphrmi: The entry level Air very much has a hard drive. The more expensive one has a solid state drive. What they both lack, however, are optical drives.

  25. UpsetPanda says:

    @Pro-Pain: It’s one thing to be unaware of the newest tech or innovations, and another to actually be in a position (like a TSA agent) over-react to it..my mom has no idea what the macbook air is, but she probably wouldn’t freak out if she saw someone in front of her at the courthouse passing it through the metal detectors. This is not like the passenger spent an extra five minutes in the line – he missed his flight.

  26. Pylon83 says:

    First off, not all of the MacBook Airs lack a HD (The one i’m typing this on has a regular HD in it). Further, even if it was the SSD version, there is absoultely no way to tell from the exterior if it’s the HD version or the SSD version. I’m certain that it as the lack of an optical drive that set them off. But seriously, this thing has been advertised like crazy, and it doesn’t really look “different”, there was no reason to freak out. These people are overly sensitive and have an inflated sense of power.

  27. Pylon83 says:

    I certainly hope you don’t plan to fly in the near future. Such comments will likely land you a place on the no-fly list. All hail the TSA and their infinite wisdom!

  28. Photogdc says:

    The issue with “not” having a hard drive was how the device appeared on the x-ray image. The agent was surprised to not see the image of a standard hard drive anywhere on the x-ray image.

  29. sir_eccles says:

    Wait, I’m confused and slightly shocked. The TSA agent was actually paying attention to the x-ray screen??????

  30. Flame says:

    @MercuryPDX: What they’re worried about is someone using a fake laptop to smuggle unapproved items on board.

    Um, if they were going to do this, don’t you think they would have picked a lap top that was a wee bit bigger….or cheaper? I can tell you, if I was going to be trying to smuggle contraband, I would want just a little more room in which to do it. LOL.

  31. uricmu says:

    The macbook air has a hard drive, it doesn’t have an optical drive.

    You can buy a superexpensive air with no hard drive, but you can’t really spot it.

    And yes, TSA used to screen regularly for any optical drives. I remember having my discman inspected every time I went through security in the mid nineties.

  32. CMU_Bueller says:

    @Pro-Pain: Pro-Pain can’t afford it, therefore it must be gay. Why don’t you take your bigotry somewhere else? The Aryan Brotherhood is always looking for new members since they always seem to end up behind bars.

  33. The Porkchop Express says:

    @diggity: You stop looking at any thing on the wall on your second day of work in places like that. Just like I have no idea what is being sold on the billboards on my drive to work. I stopped looking long ago, plus these guys probably can’t afford half the shit on the walls so why look anyway?

  34. The Porkchop Express says:

    @uricmu: For the important stuff (as far as smuggling that we should really be worried about) you don’t need a lot of room. And why not use an expensive one, if it’s explosives…you don’t care about your money anymore.

    I’m not saying the OP should have been held up forever, but I can see why there was a little concern at first.

  35. Ciao_Bambina says:

    @Matto: I hope your comment was tongue in cheek. Most TSA employees are good, hard-working folk who are just trying to get through the day. Yes, some are hard-a**, but the majority will respond well to a kind word or two and a smile. Sounds like just about every other 9-5 occupation I know.

    And how many thousands of MacBook Airs have gone through TSA checkpoints without a fuss – was this an isolated experience?

  36. whatdoyoucare says:

    Imho, I am glad that for once the TSA agent wasn’t sleeping on the job.

  37. strathmeyer says:

    @Mollyg: “The TSA guys is not to blame. He was probably just doing what he was trained to do; to flag items that are out of the norm, such as laptops without hardrives.”

    How do you tell if it has a hard drive without using a screwdriver?

  38. kbarrett says:

    I would hazard a guess that he was trained to identify an actual laptop ( as opposed to a fake with explosives loaded in it ) by turning it on and listening for the hard drive.

    I would guess that this particular TSA person has never owned a laptop, and had to rely on govt. approved training.

  39. PHX602 says:

    Goes to prove that TSA stands for “Ten Stupid Assholes.”

  40. erica.blog says:

    The article is brief enough that it’s not clear how much time was wasted by goggling at the machine. However, a security inspection that “causes owner to miss flight” is bad, especially when it could have been resolved easily by TURNING THE LAPTOP ON. (Which I thought they made you do anyway, but I haven’t flown with a laptop in years. Maybe they let laptops through with little inspection as long as they aren’t liquid.)

  41. thisisjacked says:

    Lovely. What really looks crazy (trying to get a screener’s perspective) are the ones where the power outlet fried and there’s an altered power chord that comes out of them. Damn freaky, if you ask me. I don’t see why an Air would cause such a raucus. They are so thin.

  42. thisisjacked says:

    @ Erica – my experience with laptops is that you don’t have to turn them on when you bring them through, nor do you have to open them up. If they have to be searched, the screener will just take it to one of those machines and check it and open it, if need be.

  43. thisisjacked says:

    @PHX – it’s actually Thousands Standing Around (snicker)

  44. ManPurse says:

    @Pro-Pain: uh… gay huh? Are you 13 years old? If you’re going to use that kind of idiotic language please comment on some other site.

  45. theblackdog says:

    @ManPurse: What happened to the “report this motherfucker” button?!

  46. Pink Puppet says:

    @theblackdog: We do not approve of the lack of the button!

  47. The Porkchop Express says:

    @strathmeyer: these X-ray things.

  48. charodon says:

    This is why you should always arrive at the airport 18,000 hours early for every flight.