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Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag

*Est. $220
Reviewed
August 2012
by ConsumerSearch

Pros
  • Bombproof construction
  • Highly water resistant
  • Checkpoint-friendly
  • Spacious
Cons
  • Laptop not easy to remove in flight
  • Can look clunky
  • Shoulder strap not included

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag is constructed with the rugged, high-quality materials common to many of their bags. That, combined with the fact that it's manufactured in the U.S., makes this a pricey bag for the size, though most reviewers say it's worth it. The Checkpoint Flyer is TSA-friendly, unclipping to fold out for security checkpoint screening without removing the laptop from its included sleeve. Reviewers find that this feature works well, though the way the sleeve is attached can make it more difficult to open once you're on the plane. The bag is roomy, though it can be overloaded, and its shoulder strap is not standard. Pockets are well placed and thoughtfully designed, and the bag is highly water resistant.

Durability: Highly rugged materials and good craftsmanship.

Reviewers say Tom Bihn bags help set the standard for build quality, high-grade fabrics and tough hardware, and this bag is no exception. Reviewers have used it for a variety of trips and report no scrapes, bumps or bruises.

Comfort: A well-designed bag, but the shoulder strap is extra.

Most reviews recommend the optional Absolute Shoulder Strap (*Est. 30), which they find comfortable. No strap is included in the bag, which does have carrying handles. However, the bag's size makes using the handles problematic if you overfill your Checkpoint Flyer. Those using the strap report the bag is comfortable to carry.

Appearance: Well appointed, but lumpy if you overfill.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer's careful stitching and details make this look like the high-priced bag it is, reviewers say. But if you overload the compartments it can start to look awkward, and might draw the ire of gate agents who dispute whether it's really a small carry-on.

Warranty: A limited lifetime warranty, rarely used.

Because of the extreme durability of the bag, most users and reviewers don't report needing the Checkpoint Flyer's limited lifetime warranty. Those who have worked with Tom Bihn customer service report a pleasant experience.

Features: An expensive bag, built to last.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag isn't cheap: at an estimated $220 plus $30 for the recommended shoulder strap, it's on the high end for a basic laptop case. The included laptop sleeve is sized specifically for your computer, but can be replaced separately if you change to another model. Still, reviewers say this is the top of the line for laptop case construction, so if the features suit you it's worth the price.

Bottom Line: A good overnight option for frequent travelers.

If you're not constantly taking off your shoes for airport security, there are likely less expensive bags out there that will provide more convenient access to your laptop. But for frequent flyers, the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag is one of the best options on the market, capable of carrying your tech and a night's change of clothes through security without a hiccup.

Our Sources

1. Futurelooks.com

Derek Semmler at FutureLooks.com finds the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase tasteful, rugged and well padded in this detailed review. He likes the amount and placement of pockets, the detachable laptop case for security checkpoints and the quality of construction. Downsides are the high price and the lack of a standard shoulder strap. He awards a 9.5 out of 10 rating and an Editors' Choice.

Review: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase Review, Derek Semmler, Dec. 16, 2011

2. CNET

CNET gives the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag 4.5 out of 5 stars and an Outstanding rating, praising its organizer pockets, detachable laptop sleeve, sturdy construction and thoughtful design. They aren't as pleased with the price, and fully loaded it can be too heavy to carry, they note.

Review: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Review, Editors of CNET, Oct. 22, 2008

3. BoardingArea.com

The MilesQuest blog (posted on BoardingArea.com and also at USAToday.com) reviews the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer bag over the course of three months, finding it light and easy to use. The review does a nice job of demonstrating the fold-flat feature of the bag for TSA checks. The price is high -- $220 as configured for the review -- but the reviewer says it continues to be his bag of choice for traveling.

Review: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Bag Review, "Jason", July 28, 2011

4. TUAW.com

Steven Sande likes the innovative way the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Briefcase has the laptop in a separate sleeve clipped to the side of the bag, making for quick runs through airport security. He feels the bag is just big enough to carry both tech and clothing for an overnight trip. He likes the splash-proof zippers, many pockets and rugged construction. The price is high but worthwhile, he says.

Review: Road Tested: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag, Steven Sande, May 26, 2009

5. CultOfMac.com

CultOfMac.com's Traci Dauphin gives the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase a 4 out of 5 star rating, praising the rugged styling, number of pockets and optional accessories. The carrying strap should have been standard, she suggests.

Review: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer MacBook Bag Is Just Plane Great, Traci Dauphin, Feb. 19, 2010

6. NotebookReview.com

NotebookReview.com's David Li gives accolades to the Tim Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag for its rugged construction, splash-proof zippers, "uniquely designed" laptop case that splits for security checkpoints, space and optional Absolute Shoulder Strap. "Although this laptop bag comes with a premium price, it also stands out as a premium product," he writes. Downsides are the price, the bulky look when fully loaded, the small zipper tabs and the non-included strap.

Review: Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Bag Review, David Li, Nov. 30, 2008

7. TheVacationGals.com

Kara Williams calls Tom Bihn bags, including the Checkpoint Flyer, "rugged, functional, versatile and stylish." The case is roomy, has nice zippers and is water resistant. The laptop sleeve makes it very easy to get through security, she says, but can make it much more difficult to actually extract the laptop when on the plane.

Review: Checkpoint-Friendly Laptop Bag Review: Tom Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer, Kara Williams, Oct. 13, 2010

8. SlashDot.org

This review takes the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Bag to Israel and back, finding that the bag's open-up-for-checkpoint feature works fine, there are a good number of pockets, it sheds rain like a pro and the bag is well constructed. Peeves include the fact that the high-contrast Solar fabric from other bags is not available as an interior option here, strap attachment points that don't seem the most comfortable and the lack of fasteners for the big flap pocket in the back.

Review: Traveling with Tom Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer, "Timothy", March 13, 2009

9. PardonTheDisruption.com

Chip Griffin says he had a hard time finding the right laptop bag until the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer came along. "I have tried large and small bags; bags with and without wheels; backbacks [sic] and over-the-shoulder models. I feel a bit like Goldilocks as I try each new one out. And now I think I have found a laptop bag that is 'just right.' " He likes the excellent workmanship, logical organization, the nice fit under the airplane seat in front of him and the ease at security checkpoints. It does have a hefty price tag, he notes.

Review: Tom Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer: My Best Bag Ever, Chip Griffin, April 27, 2010

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