TSA Safety Locks Go Far to Protect Your Luggage When You Travel

Before you check in your bags at the airport, be sure to check out TSA-compliant locks.

Air travel can be hectic enough without having to worry about thieves rummaging through your bags. In the scramble to get where they need to be, travelers may neglect to give much thought to baggage security, taking it for granted that their bags will be left untouched by prying eyes and hands.

But the fact is, without taking the necessary precautions, travelers can put their luggage and any valuables it contains at considerable risk. Checking a bag in at the airport is not the same as protecting it against theft. In one year alone, 702 million consumers took to the skies, and luggage security problems soared. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reimbursed consumers a total of $3 million as a result of 50,000 complaints of damaged, stolen or lost luggage.1

With roughly 26 million suitcases reported missing each year after being checked in, luggage security is a major cause for concern.2 In 2012, consumers shelled out over $3 billion to check their luggage in the United States alone – a 700% increase over the previous year – and the threat of tampering continues to plague airports throughout the country and internationally.2

TSA Locks Help Consumers Take Control of Their Luggage Security

According to Scott Mueller, who has more than 25 years of experience in baggage operations for U.S. airlines, baggage theft “happens far more than the traveling public knows.”1 Given that between 7,000 and 14,000 claims get filed with the TSA each year,2 travelers must be proactive to prevent becoming a statistic.

Many consumers purchase locks to keep their bags secure in transit. But any travel lock should have a twofold purpose: 1.) to protect against thieves, and 2.) to protect against any damage that airport security personnel might cause if they deem it necessary to inspect what’s inside the luggage.

Founded in the wake of 9/11 to strengthen the security of the U.S. transportation system, the TSA is mandated under U.S. federal law to screen all check-in baggage. In adherence to strict security guidelines, TSA personnel will open luggage at their discretion to inspect the contents.

Only locks that are in compliance with the TSA serve as a deterrent to thieves while also allowing TSA screeners access. TSA locks are specially designed so that authorized TSA personnel can open and relock them with ease. As the TSA states on its official website,  “TSA has worked with several companies to develop locks that can be opened by security officers using universal ‘master’ keys so that the locks may not have to be cut.”3

Peace of Mind Instead of Locks in Pieces

TSA screeners have no choice but to destroy non-compliant locks to force their way into luggage for inspections. This could also result in damage to the luggage itself and its contents, for which the TSA assumes no liability. With a TSA-approved lock, security personnel don’t have to force luggage open and risk damaging it, and the consumer locks in peace of mind.

While no lock can render luggage impenetrable to thieves, it is important to bear in mind that just the sight of one securing a suitcase can be a deterrent. In their hunt for an easy mark, thieves seem likely to target luggage without a lock. TSA-approved locks let consumers check their bags with confidence, keeping both their belongings safe from theft and their bags safe from damage during airport security inspections.

The growing prevalence of TSA-approved locks has proven effective in thwarting thieves and preventing luggage damage, as shown by the 35% drop in claims filed between 2010 and 2014.1 Part of this track record of success has been a vigorous crackdown on rogue TSA agents who open TSA locks to commit theft. 500 of them have been fired since 2003.1

Travel Smart Has a Lock on TSA-Compliant Security

Which lock should you purchase? Conair offers a variety of Travel Smart® locks that are fully TSA compliant. These locks feature the TSA symbol (show symbol), so consumers can rest assured that whatever lock they select will both deter thieves and allow TSA scanners to open luggage as needed. The symbol lets the screeners know that the lock can be safely opened with the special codes or tools at their disposal.

Highly regarded for products that make traveling easier, more enjoyable and more secure, Travel Smart offers two of the most popular types of TSA locks available: key locks, which provide the simplicity of opening and locking with a key, and dial locks, for which consumers set and reset number combinations.

Travel Smart’s Travel Sentry Padlock is constructed of durable, rust-resistant brass with plastic cover and comes with 2 matching, color-coordinated keys with plastic casings.

Travel Sentry Padlock

Travel Sentry Padlock from Conair

Lightweight and sturdy, with rust-resistant steel housing, the 3-Dial Inspection Status Lock features an easy-to-reset lock combination and an Inspection Status™ indicator that lets consumers know whether TSA screeners have opened the lock or thieves have tampered with it.

3 Dial Inspection Status Lock

3 Dial Inspection Status Lock

Perfect for those who prefer a lock that offers strong security with a trendy touch, the Travel Tricia Heart-Shaped Luggage Lock allows for a resettable lock combination and fuses lightweight yet sturdy housing with stylish design.

Travel Tricia Heart Shaped Luggage Lock

Travel Tricia Heart Shaped Luggage Lock

Travel Smart offers many other TSA-approved locks, all of which combine convenience with control that limits access to authorized TSA personnel.

The Bottom Line on TSA Locks: Take Action, Not Risks

Ultimately, with the threat of terrorism such an urgent concern at airports these days, the onus of protecting luggage from theft falls on consumers. “When you have the TSA and local law enforcement watching for terrorists,” Scott Mueller, the airline baggage security expert, explained, “this takes the priority off of thieves stealing luggage from the carousel.”2 What’s more, to save money carriers are no longer inspecting fliers’ bag claim checks at the airport exit, so “anyone can walk in off the street and walk out with a bag.”1

To be sure, airport security is complicated. But with the simple purchase of a TSA lock, consumers can dramatically cut the risk of having lost, stolen, or damaged luggage and gain peace of mind.

1 TSA Travel Tips, TSA Approved Locks: What You Should Know And Where You Can Get Them, June 12, 2014

2 Peterson, Barbara, “The Problem with Airlines and Checked Baggage,” Condé Nast Traveler, June 19, 2012

3 Transportation Safety Administration, TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: TSA Recognized Locks, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014