Checkpoint mate

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Few things are as exasperating as the trek through airport security to begin a flight to wherever.

Empty your pockets. Put your cell phone in a plastic bowl. Take off your shoes. Remove your belt. Balance your laptop in one hand, as you wrestle with a pair of plastic bins in the other.

After making it through a metal detector on your third try, you wrestle with other frenzied passengers grabbing up their stuff. Finally, with pants sagging, comes the constant threat of dropping your laptop onto a hard floor where it might get stomped by the stocking feet of fellow travelers.

Anything that eases the burden of this safety march is a gadget I have great interest in.

Skooba's Checkthrough (model R101-101, $75 at is one such product. It's a bag that is "checkpoint friendly," meaning you can leave your computer in the carry-on where it's visible, scan-able and relatively safe from accidentally falling to the floor.

Unzipping the middle portion of the bag opens a hinged area that separates the laptop compartment, so Transportation Security Administration agents can visually inspect it through a clear plastic window. As it moves through security's X-ray equipment, the image the screener sees is the same as if the laptop had been removed from the bag.

Once through security, the Checkthrough can be scooped up with your computer safely protected inside. You can then zip up the bag while you rush to your departure gate.

While an overzealous TSA agent can always require you to remove the laptop from the case, I've run this bag through airport security four times without challenge. In fact, twice TSA agents marveled at seeing their first checkpoint-friendly bag.

The Checkthrough holds all laptops with 15-inch screens and can accommodate some with screens up to 17 inches.

It has 20 compartments in all, including a section to hold papers, magazines and small electronics. Three cargo pockets in front hold more stuff, including your cell phone and metallic objects. The bag is also waterproof and has a ballistic exterior.

Now, if President Obama's secretary of homeland security would let us keep our shoes on our feet and liquids in our carry-ons, air travel might become tolerable again.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail