Airport Lines and Mac Laptops

by Derrick Story

The great leveler when traveling is the moment we all have to reveal our laptops while going through airport security. Over the years, I've been using this annoying ritual as anecdotal research for the types of computers business travelers are really using.

Sometimes the data is skewed, such as when traveling to a Mac conference. Seems likely that I would see more PowerBooks than usual in that situation. But my recent trip to Orlando for PMA was a fair test. This show is for retailers, marketers, photographers, enthusiasts, and guys in suits (who I have no idea what they do). In other words, this is a very diverse crowd.

What I noticed going out and returning home is a higher proportion of sleek Apple laptops in those dull gray plastic trays at security checkpoints. It used to be all black Dells, Toshibas, HPs, IBMs, and various other Windows machines. The trend is changing. Seems as though I'm seeing a much higher ration of aluminum laptops scooting through X-ray machines these days.

Oh, and by the way, my order of putting things through the machine: shoes first, carry on bag second, laptop last. I don't go through the metal detector until my laptop goes into the X-ray machine, and I'm usually on the other side as it makes it way out behind my other items.


2006-03-03 10:39:20
Its happening everywhere. A coworker of mine attended the Python Users Conference two years ago. Python is a programming language used very much in the Linux community. But my coworker came back talking about how many Apple laptops were there. I'm going to the ColdFusion Conference in DC this June. I'm hoping there will be a lot of Apple laptops there to convince my bosses that I "NEED" a MacBook Pro.
2006-03-03 12:03:19
Unfortunately our place is trying to persuade our loan Linux user to switch to a Windows laptop - the reason? The tech team can only guarantee security on machines they've installed themselves - with Windows. However, I've convinced sales and marketing they need iWork and iLife.
2006-03-03 13:31:13
What is interesting to me is the number of Apple stickers I see covering up various logos on the lids of laptops! I saw at least 10 in the customs line on my last trip to Japan.
2006-03-03 16:05:34
You have to put your _shoes_ through the x-ray!?
2006-03-03 16:28:44
Yep, shoes at LAX, PHX, Bob Hope(burbank), BOI, SLC etc. That's why I fly with sandals.
2006-03-03 19:31:50
Oh, lucky you. Travelling from the northern territory doesn't let you use sandals... It's just too cold to wear them from my home to the airport. I agree on one point. I have to let my shoes go into the X-ray machine before I can put my precious Mac.
Randal L. Schwartz
2006-03-03 23:29:04
And consider me paranoid, but I'm always very careful to stand *right* at the exit of the "tunnel" from the x-ray machine, to catch the bin holding my laptop so that it doesn't bounce all the way down the rollers to the end of the path. I can't imagine that those small, sharp, fast vibrations will do anything good to my laptop guts.
2006-03-04 18:50:29
I always place my coat over my Powerbook in the same bin, to keep it reasonably hidden. I've never had a TSA agent complain.

As for shoes - yes, every airport I've traveled through in the past few months (about a half-dozen, all in the US) have made everyone remove all shoes. Just part of traveling these days. If I'm in a small airport I'll just walk to the gate in my socks - easier than fumbling for shoes in the security area.