Last Updated: January 17, 2023

Is It Safe to Put A Laptop in Checked Luggage?

Laptops come with lithium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries can catch fire on flights, which is why separate lithium batteries like spares or power banks, have to be in your carry-on bag on flights. But, is the rule the same for laptops?

Traveling on planes can be stressful if you are not used to it. A way of making things a lot more relaxed is knowing the rules.

Since most people have and travel with laptops, where should you be carrying your laptop during your flight, and if putting it in your checked luggage wise or even allowed, is what we are here to find out!

Join me as I run through everything you need to know about whether putting your laptop in your checked luggage is legal or a good idea.

Can You Put Laptops in Checked Luggage?

laptop brought in a travel

According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) which is the regulator for airline security in the USA, a laptop falls under “portable electronic devices powered by lithium batteries” which must be packed according to certain rules.

The TSA states that all such electronic devices can be packed in your checked luggage. When it comes to laptops, they have to be turned off and closed so they do not turn on, and it is wise to put them in a protective case so they are not damaged.

Laptops with batteries over 160 watt-hours are not allowed in checked luggage and laptops with batteries between 100 and 160 watt-hours must have airline pre-approval. Almost all laptops have batteries with 100 watt-hours or less, so you should be fine.

Is It Safe to Put A Laptop in Checked Luggage?

It might seem safe to put your laptop in your checked luggage but it does not come without its risks.

Your checked luggage can be subjected to a lot of abuse. Baggage handlers can throw suitcases from one place to the next, stack heavy bags on light bags, and lots more.

The chances of your laptop being damaged in your checked luggage is much higher than in your carry-on bag.

Checked luggage can also get temporarily lost and even lost forever. If you rely on your laptop for work, losing it for a few days at your destination is not a great situation to be in. Losing an expensive laptop forever is even worse! You are not going to lose your carry-on baggage.

Finally, checked luggage can be rifled through and things can be stolen from it. It is not worth risking your laptop being stolen in your checked luggage.

Where Should You Put Your Laptop When You Fly?

where to put laptop

You should put your laptop in your carry-on baggage, and in your “personal item” of your carry-on baggage. A “personal item” is something that fits under the seat in front of you, like a backpack.

Pack your laptop in a protective case, in the laptop sleeve of a backpack that is considered a personal item. This way, it won’t be lost, damaged, or stolen and you can access it during the flight so you can work, listen to music, watch movies, and more.

Make sure your laptop is charged when put in your carry-on bags as a TSA agent may ask you to turn it on to prove it is a functioning laptop and not a laptop posing to be something else. If it does not turn on, it can be confiscated, so do not risk it!

How to Safely Pack Your Laptop in Checked Luggage

There are quite a few considerations when it comes to packing your laptop in your checked luggage. Only do it if you have to, not that I know of any situation where this would happen, but in case it does, this is the best way to safely pack your laptop in your checked luggage.

Use A Hard-Case Suitcase With Multiple Compartments

Hard-case suitcases provide the most protection for your things, and when it comes to checked baggage, they are the best. Hard cases are also much harder to cut into should someone want to steal your belongings.

If it has two compartments, this allows you to ensure your laptop is in the middle surrounded by padding, and easily accessible if you need it to be.

Make Sure Your Checked Baggage Locks

Your checked bag should also be lockable with a padlock or a combination lock. This will help ensure your checked bag is not broken into.

Turn Your Laptop Off & Use A Protective Case

You must make sure your laptop is off and closed when in your checked baggage so it doesn’t overheat and catch fire in your checked bag.

You should also put your laptop inside in a protective case like a padded laptop bag inside your checked baggage. This will provide a lot of extra protection!

Pack Your Laptop In The Middle With Padding

laptop with padding

If your checked baggage is going to experience damage, it is the outside that will take the brunt of it. Make sure your laptop is packed in the middle of your checked baggage so it is as far away from the impact zone as possible.

Use all your clothes and towels to pad the area around your laptop so that it is well protected. Also, make sure your checked baggage is packed full so that the contents don’t fly around while your checked baggage is being moved to the plane and back to baggage claim.

Back-Up, Track, & Enable Remote Wiping On Your Laptop

Since a laptop in checked baggage could be damaged, lost, or stolen, it is wise to take all the necessary precautions in case the worst should happen.

Step one is to back up your laptop to a hard drive you leave at home so you have a copy of all your data in case you lose your laptop or it is broken beyond repair. Next, enable location tracking on your laptop so you can find it if you need to.

Lastly, in case your laptop is stolen, enable remote wiping so you can delete everything on your laptop and stop your data from being accessed by thieves.

Other Tips for Traveling With Laptops

Spare Laptop Batteries Must Go In Carry-On Luggage

All separate lithium-ion batteries outside of electronic devices must be carried in your carry-on luggage by law, so make sure they are in your carry-on, not your checked baggage.

Put A Strong Password On Your Laptop

Having a strong password on your laptop is a good idea, just in case something happens. It adds an extra layer of security to your personal data!

How Many Laptops Can You Put In Your Checked Baggage?

how many laptops in checked luggage

Technically there are no limits on the number of laptops you can carry in your checked baggage or your carry-on, except if you are traveling through China where the limit is 15 laptops.

Are Things Stolen From Checked Luggage Often?

Statistically speaking, around 0.7% of checked bags are either lost or stolen which is a very small percentage. But, that equates to close to over 1 million bags a year, which sounds like a lot. Most lost bags are returned, however.

Are The Rules The Same All Over The World?

Yes, pretty much. The regulators IATA (120 countries & 290 airlines), FAA (US), TSA (US), TCCA (Canada), and CAAC (China), all allow laptops in checked luggage and carry-on bags. They also have the same rules for lithium batteries.

It is still worth checking with your airline as some countries do have specific rules!

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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