We've seen a rush of laptops bags that meet TSA guidelines for cases that can go through airport security checkpoints with a laptop still inside, from the Netbook-size Solo Mini to the gigantic Mobile Edge ScanFast Backpack. The $49 Belkin FlyThru laptop bag is a more traditional 15-inch size, and is a favorite in that category because it's cheaper than the competition (some of these TSA-style bags can run upward of $200). Plus, it has a stylish, slim design.
Like the Targus Zip-Thru or CODi Phantom CT3, the Belkin FlyThru has two main compartments: a traditional front section, with pockets for your accessories and carry-on items, and a second compartment, with no inside pockets, for your laptop. A zipper around the middle of the bag splits the entire case in two, so it lies flat. The key concept is that your laptop is now in its own separate compartment, with nothing above or below it, giving the airport X-ray machine a clear, unobstructed view. Unlike the similar bags we looked at, the Belkin FlyThru has a clear plastic panel on one face of the laptop section, so you (and the security screeners) can also physically see inside easily.
At 13 inches by 16.5 inches by 4.5 inches, it's a hair smaller than the Targus and CODi 15-inch bags, but it feels slimmer and easier to carry, thanks to rounded edges and a lack of excessive bulky padding. We were, however, less enamored of the shoulder strap, which attached via buckles to the top of the bag, rather than the sides. Having the two anchor points for the strap so close together made the bag feel unbalanced on our shoulders. We also would have liked to see more pockets in the nonlaptop sections of the bag. There are two decent-size ones inside the main accessory compartment, and a large zippered pocket right on the front face, but there were no large, flat pockets for magazines or newspapers. We find these quite useful, whether we're taking a long flight or just going to the local coffee shop with our laptop.