Can You Take Laptops on Planes Guide 2020

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Laptops on an airplane – a topic that causes confusion time and again and appears in the news. There are certain models that are banned by airlines due to defective lithium batteries. There are also other things to consider when it comes to taking and using a laptop on an airplane.

In this article you will learn everything you need to know about your mobile computers in the airplane: which laptops are forbidden in the airplane, how many devices may i take with me, in which luggage item should i pack the laptops and much more.

Are Laptops allowed in planes?

To cut a long story short: basically yes! Laptops are allowed on airplanes.

You can take most laptops on planes without concern, with one recent exception: Certain 15-inch MacBook Pro models from 2015 and 2017 are no longer allowed on most airlines.

Because of battery issues, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered all airlines to ban these laptops. Apple has also recalled the faulty models.

So as of today, you can take all laptops on the plane except the recalled MacBooks. You should also be careful with the other MacBook models, because American airlines like Virgin Australia have banned all Macs. So if in doubt, always check with your airline.

Short Guide: Laptops on Planes

  • You may take your laptop with you in your hand luggage. Many airlines even point out that you should take it with you in the cabin in any case, as normal luggage is often thrown and valuable items in the suitcase can be broken.
  • Some airlines have a policy that a laptop bag counts as an additional personal item. This means you can carry your normal hand luggage and a laptop bag.
  • You should always follow the airline’s regulations. For many, certain weight limits for hand luggage may not be exceeded. Finnair, for example, requires that hand baggage and personal baggage together must not weigh more than 8kg. Depending on how heavy your laptop is, you must therefore pay particular attention to the total weight.
  • As a general rule, you should not carelessly throw your laptop into the bag in the cabin either. Just get a cheap laptop sleeve or directly a laptop bag.
  • Also make sure that your bag does not exceed the specified dimensions. You can usually check these with any airline.
  • When entering the duty free zone at any airport, you must remove your laptop from your carry-on baggage and place it in a separate tray for screening. So keep it handy or put it directly in your own bag.

Taking your laptop with you in a bag or your checked baggage

There are always rumours that laptops are forbidden in checked baggage. That’s not true for now. To be able to carry your laptop on a flight in your checked baggage, most airlines have the following regulations:

  • The built-in battery may have a maximum of 100 watt hours (Wh).
  • The device must be completely switched off
  • No possibility of unintentional switch-on
  • The laptop must be protected from damage (securely packed). However, spare batteries must always be carried in hand luggage. The same applies to mobile power banks.

How to be on the safe side with laptops on planes

Different countries – different regulators. There are certainly airlines that have completely banned laptops from their checked baggage. So when flying internationally, pay attention to the individual regulations and always check with the airline in question for safety reasons.

Laptops on planes – suitcase, hand luggage or personal item?

Laptop in Airplane

Even though you are generally allowed to store your laptop in your task baggage (suitcase or bag), I still advise against it. Checked-in luggage can get lost and the contents can be damaged or stolen. Since most laptops are not cheap, it makes more sense to keep your device with you.

Personally, I have my laptop almost exclusively in my hand luggage (trolley or bag) and stow it above the seats in the luggage compartment, although a personal item has some advantages.

If you have to use your laptop on the plane, it is of course recommended to store your laptop in the personal item.

Laptops as Personal items

The personal item is a second, smaller piece of hand luggage, which is free of charge with most airlines. The personal item must be able to be stowed under the front seat and usually has the approximate dimensions of 40x20x25cm. The personal item cannot be a laptop bag, handbag or camera bag. A small backpack in the appropriate size is of course also possible.

The advantage here is that you don’t have to constantly fetch your hand luggage from the upper luggage compartment, so your laptop is always ready to hand under your feet. Another advantage of small hand luggage: If flights are overbooked, some passengers are asked to check in their normal hand luggage for free. With a Personal Item you can be sure that your laptop stays with you, because you can stow the small bag under the seat.

Laptops at the Airport Security Check

Laptop at Airport

Even though laptops are allowed on flights, there are a few things to keep in mind during the security check.

You should know that before the security check, your laptop must be taken out of your bag and must be placed in a seperate container. This is an IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulation and is the same worldwide. If you have several laptops, you must place them one by one in the X-ray trays.

This regulation sometimes also applies to other larger electronic devices such as camcorders and tablets. The security staff will inform you in advance.

Can i carry more than one laptop on the plane?

Here, too, it can be said in principle that there are no known limitations in terms of “laptop quantity”. The only important thing is that you put all laptops into a separate box for scanning at the security check.

But be aware that too many laptops can possibly lead to unnecessary stress. If you have two laptops in your luggage, no one will say anything. However, if you suddenly arrive with 10 laptops, there will be problems at customs.

By law, if you have actually brought the laptops with you from your home country and did not buy them abroad, you will have to show the customs officials proof of purchase. Otherwise, you could face heavy customs duties. Depending on the country, you may have to pay an average import duty of 10-40%. You can find more information on the customs page.

Can i take a Desktop Computer on the plane?

You can carry desktop computers in both carry-on and checked in baggage. The classic PCs do not have built-in lithium batteries and consist mainly only of electrical components that are not overly regulated. So apart from the size restrictions, there are no special features here.

To reduce the likelihood of damage, it makes more sense to take your PC as hand luggage. Wrap your computer in bubble wrap beforehand and remove the hard drives. Hard drives are the most sensitive (and valuable) components of your computer and should be packed separately.

By the way, you can theoretically carry a monitor in your hand and task baggage as well.

Conclusion: Laptops on Planes

Travelling with a laptop can be quite stressful if you are not aware of it. But if you check with your airline in advance and follow the general guidelines, nothing can go wrong.

It is therefore best to keep your laptop with you in your hand luggage or as a personal item on the plane. Also make sure that your battery does not exceed 100 watt hours.

Multiple laptops on the plane are also no problem. Remember to bring your proof of purchase and customs duties.

What is your experience with laptops on planes? Do you store your device in hand luggage or as a personal item? Are you one of the people who use their laptops on the plane? Please Comment on your experience!


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