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Do Baggage Locks Make Your Baggage Extra Safe?

Most suitcases available on the market have locks. This added safety makes vacationers really feel safer, however does it really work? I spoke with Nathan Bahr and Jeff Church, supervisory transportation safety officers on the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), and Lorie Dankers, a spokesperson for the TSA, to seek out out.

Totally different Kinds of Baggage Locks 

There are two essential kinds of baggage locks. The extra prevalent sort is one that’s constructed into the suitcase — you’ll see these on many checked luggage available on the market proper now. The opposite sort of baggage lock is removable and may be bought individually from the suitcase. Most vacationers with separate, removable locks use these for duffle luggage, backpacks, or different baggage with no built-in lock. Surprisingly, not all built-in locks are TSA-approved, so it’s essential to look earlier than buying a brand new suitcase.

In keeping with the TSA, locks seem extra usually on checked luggage than carry-ons. Nonetheless, this may rely largely on the place the traveler is heading and what they’re touring with. In case you’re curious in case your lock is TSA-approved, that is the way you inform: “There’s two completely different producers,” explains Church. “[A TSA-approved lock] could have a diamond form on the lock, and [at] the underside of the lock, it would say TSA with some numbers.”

Why Individuals Use Baggage Locks

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Everybody needs to verify their belongings keep protected whereas in transit. There are a number of explanation why folks may use baggage locks, starting from safety towards theft to retaining the suitcase collectively. If in case you have a zipper that gained’t keep shut, a lock can successfully guarantee your suitcase doesn’t fall open whereas going by way of the conveyor belts till it reaches your ultimate vacation spot.

If the priority is the security of your objects whereas the bags is within the custody of TSA, you don’t have anything to fret about. The TSA has heavy accountability measures, together with CCTV footage throughout any potential bodily inspection. You by no means have to fret about theft by TSA officers, so don’t buy a lock solely because of this.

Nonetheless, folks outdoors of the TSA, like third-party baggage handlers and even folks ready on the baggage carousel, might have entry to your suitcase. A visual lock, whether or not built-in or exterior, might dissuade potential thieves from trying into your suitcase.

How the TSA Handles Baggage Locks

After leaving the check-in counter, all checked luggage undergo an explosive detection system. This technique makes use of a 3D scanner to establish potential explosives. If the scanner flags a suitcase, an officer evaluations the X-ray picture and may both clear the bag or flag it for a bodily inspection. “In our checked baggage room, we’ve got a set of keys,” explains Church. “There’s 9 completely different keys for 9 completely different locks.” In case your suitcase is flagged and has a TSA-approved lock, it will likely be searched and resecured earlier than it makes its technique to the airplane.

It’s essential to know that solely choose TSA officers can entry the keys to open TSA-approved locks. You don’t have to fret that dozens of units of keys are floating round, capable of open your suitcase at any second. They’re securely saved and tracked for additional accountability.

“We now have to safe our keys each morning and night time to verify we’ve got management of the keys and that we have not had somebody wander by way of and acquire the keys that should not have entry to them,” explains Bahr.

If in case you have a lock that’s not TSA-approved and your bag is flagged, the lock will get minimize. Bahr explains that the TSA has a set of bolt cutters to take away the locks if vital. Though the lock can’t be repaired, the officer will attempt to use zip ties to safe the bag earlier than sending it alongside.

Solely round 5 % of luggage are opened for bodily inspection, so that you probably gained’t encounter points, no matter your lock sort. In case your suitcase does want an inspection, it will likely be opened by any means vital. Of the 5 % that will get inspected, Bahr estimates that between 25 % and 35 % of luggage are locked, so it definitely makes the method rather more streamlined if it’s TSA-approved.

Carry-on luggage are a barely completely different scenario. Since carry-ons stay with the passenger whereas they undergo safety, a TSA-approved lock isn’t as vital. If an officer must carry out a bodily inspection after the carry-on goes by way of the scanner, the traveler can open the lock for the officer, whether or not it’s TSA-approved or not.

Backside Line

As a full-time traveler, I extremely suggest having a suitcase with a built-in TSA-approved baggage lock. I do know my suitcase is safe whereas in transit, nevertheless it gained’t must be damaged into for the TSA to do a bodily inspection. In case your suitcase doesn’t have a built-in TSA-approved lock, there are many exterior locks available on the market which are nonetheless TSA-approved. Search for the Journey Sentry marking, a bit of crimson diamond, to know if it falls into this class.

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