The Scary Truth About TSA Luggage Locks

 tsa lock key

Have you ever considered buying a lock for your travel bags? Did you ever have anything stolen from your luggage while traveling? While most people tend to put their trust into TSA-approved locks, today we are going to reveal to you the terrifying truth about these luggage locks.

Get ready for the harsh truth, it will come in handy next time you need to travel. Here is all you need to know about luggage safety inside airports and at your destination and what you can do to increase their safety.

Why Aren't TSA Locks A Good Idea?

luggage locksA TSA lock is a type of lock that is accepted by an airport's security personnel as it complies with a series of requirements. Such a lock can be easily unlocked during luggage screening and prevent both passengers and the TSA crew from dealing with the extra hassle of picking or breaking the respective lock. However, in some cases, TSA locks can also be subject to harsh manipulation, especially in case of an immediate threat or an emergency that requires a bag to be checked instantly.

TSA locks are considered unsafe since their shackles can be easily cut with the help of simple and available cutting tools used by novices. For example, a poor-quality diagonal cutting plier would suffice to cut open such a lock. Plus, its lock cylinders can also be easily pried open by even the most inexperienced thieves.

Why Do TSA Locks Continue To Be Used?

For starters, these locks have been created with the clear purpose of simplifying TSA employees' jobs. Instead of having to open a bag by breaking it when the key is missing, they will use their own set of TSA lock keys that match the approved locks and streamline the process considerably.

Travelers can also benefit from more peace of mind and lower their anxiety levels knowing their bags will not be damaged by improper lock opening practices. Nevertheless, there is no real guarantee that a TSA-approved lock will not fall into the hands of an overly-zealous TSA employee who might decide to forcefully open a TSA-approved lock instead of opening it the easy way. There are examples of travelers who claim they TSA employees have cut locks off their luggage locks regardless of the locks having the TSA seal on them. Of course, the risks of having something like that happen to you are smaller, but they are not, however, close to null.

Are TSA Padlocks A Better Alternative?

Padlocks that are also wearing the TSA seal of approval are about as safe as a zip tie. In other words, try not to rely on a TSA-approved padlock too much when traveling, especially when you need to travel long distances. Try to steer clear TSA padlocks that feature the red-diamond shaped travel logo. Your luggage can accidentally fall open because of these vulnerable locks. None of them designed to resist forcible entry and they are trivially easy to pick. The red symbol can also be found on a variety of gym lockers, electric panels or storage cabinets. This means all these locks can be opened with TSA master keys. Not only the TSA have them; they can be found online at small prices or you can download 3D printing plans for them.

Also, keep in mind that a TSA padlock can be easily taken off and relocked on luggage bags without you even noticing until it is too late. As opposed to a zip tie that cannot be reattached onto a bag once it has been taken down, a TSA lock or padlock can be put back after a legal luggage search.

TSA Can Remove Your Luggage Lock Without A Reason

luggage locksWhat is even more concerning when it comes to these travel locks is the fact that the TSA officers inside an airport can decide to check your luggage without cause or reason. The “Notice of Baggage Inspection” should inform you about the circumstances under which the TSA can inspect your luggage. Basically, it is a matter of fellow passenger protection and legal requirements that the TSA must respect. The process involves the opening of selected bags so they can be physically inspected. During this process, the luggage bags and all of their contents will be searched for any prohibited items you might be carrying. Once the inspection will be completed, all of the items will be placed back into the bags. The TSA cannot be held accountable for any damage caused to the locks in the process.

Zippers Cannot Be Protected By Luggage Locks

Another disturbing truth is that luggage locks used to secure zippers are, in fact, completely useless. Someone curious to take a look at the inside of your travel back can easily puncture the zipper using a ballpoint pen. They can next move the pull tab of the zipper over the open zipper teeth and seal back the luggage so you will have no clue it has been tampered with.

There are anti-puncture zippers that can do a good job at withstanding picking attempts. However, a lock will never be able to truly protect a zipper. Try to use hasp-based luggage instead.

Built-in locks on travel bags usually cannot do what the advertisement claims, especially when it comes to so-called high-security luggage locks. Take their marketing with a grain of salt and use additional security measures for your bags. If you can read any disk detainer or tubular lock descriptions on your luggage bags, you might want to stay away from them. These locks are known to break with extreme ease and they are also made of poor quality materials/ they can be usually picked with improvised keys.

Remember to always be vigilant and supervise your luggage when traveling, no matter if you are in the airport, at a train station or on a bus. We can help you select some reliable travel locks and padlocks for enhanced hotel room security. Get in touch with us today!

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