The Transportation Security Administration (more commonly known as the TSA) has been in existence since 9/11. This faction of United States Homeland Security is responsible for keeping our travel safe. They check our large electronics, our liquids, and our shoes, and they also look at our checked baggage.
According to their website, they screen more than 1.3 million bags a day. Most of the time, they can screen a bag without opening it – but occasionally they will have to open the bag for search. When this happens, your luggage will be returned to you with a sticker that informs you that someone has opened and personally inspected your bag. If you put a lock on your bag, the TSA is within their rights to cut the lock to gain access to your items.
If you are a slightly paranoid traveler or have just been the victim of a robbery or two like I have, this is disheartening. It is understandable that the US government has the right to access our bags, but what about everyone else working at the airport? What about the people in my final destination? A lock is an added layer of security against anyone we may encounter who may be less-than-honest. Are we all doomed to travel with insecure luggage, or to have our bags returned to us with broken locks?
Under an agreement with Safe Skies Luggage Locks and Travel Sentry, the TSA has been provided universal “master” keys or locks designed specifically for air travel. That way, TSA agents with master keys can open your lock easily and without destruction, but anyone else who may encounter your bag will still be kept out.
I have been using TSA locks for years. I can fly easy knowing that the TSA can easily screen my bag if need be and that no one else can get in there to steal my things. Below is a list of the best TSA locks currently on the market.
I have used these locks to lock two adjacent zipper pulls together, and to connect one zipper pull to an external baggage handle. They are small and inconspicuous but are made of a sturdy zinc alloy that can withstand less-than-gentle baggage handling.
However, this set also comes with a very durable 4ft steel cord, with two loops that can be secured to either lock. You can either use the cable to connect a larger bag to a smaller bag, or wrap the cable around your luggage and secure with the padlock. Either way, your lock and cable will easily withstand the rigors of baggage handling, and your items will remain secure.
With these two locks and the included steel cable, I could secure a lock to the zipper, loop the steel cable around the duffle’s main handle and then clip it back together with the lock. My items are secure and there is no need to buy a whole new bag. These locks also allow you to set your own 4 digit code. They also have a high impact resistance for the rougher bits of travel.
This set comes with 4 locks and 4 keys, but the keys and locks work interchangeably. If I were traveling with my family, I would give everyone a lock and everyone a key. That way, if someone loses their key, someone else already has one that will open their bag.
This makes your bag instantly recognizable. The resettable combination and the long and flexible cable also make it an effective lock. You have 6 colors to choose from. It’ll make sure your bag is both noticeable and secure.
So whether you are traveling to the other side of the world or just want to keep your bag extra safe while traveling domestically, TSA locks are a great way to remain compliant while keeping your possessions safe. I highly recommend investing in one that works for you.