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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:13 am   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Is it a problem to padlock your suitcase flying to USA?

I'm flying BA in a few weeks - LHR to BWI (Baltimore USA). I hadn't given it any thought and was going to padlock the zips on my suitcase, but I see on an online shop a padlock that has in description:
"Allows only American security personnel to examine bag without damaging this lock" and "Recognised by American Travel Security Administration (TSA)".

Is there something I need to know?

Thanks

PS - is there a thread anywhere in relation to the latest whispers/news regarding a potential BA strike? I'm flying on 27/01/10 and a little concerned I may get hit by a strike.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:27 am   #2
 
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Normal padlocks they will open (read destruct) so get yourself a TSA approved one, which many are and are for sale in the UK, for a few pounds. These ones they can open and close again.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:29 am   #3
 
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Yeah get the TSA approved ones, they should have a red diamond I think on them and next to the lock itself it will say something like TSA 5. They will bust any locks if they want to get in and cannot open. And they won't pay for any damage.

As for the strike I think the union are due to ballot on the 18/01, I think they then need to wait a month to get the replies in, and then 7 days after that they could strike - so you should be OK.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:31 am   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingHighlander View Post
I'm flying BA in a few weeks - LHR to BWI (Baltimore USA). I hadn't given it any thought and was going to padlock the zips on my suitcase, but I see on an online shop a padlock that has in description:
"Allows only American security personnel to examine bag without damaging this lock" and "Recognised by American Travel Security Administration (TSA)".

Is there something I need to know?

Thanks

PS - is there a thread anywhere in relation to the latest whispers/news regarding a potential BA strike? I'm flying on 27/01/10 and a little concerned I may get hit by a strike.
TSA approved locks allow TSA personnel to open the lock should they need to inspect the contents of your case as part of screening using either a special tool or key.

If TSA staff need to inspect your case and you have locked it with a non TSA approved lock, they can (as I understand it) simply break open your lock/case to complete the inspection. It is for this reason that I recently replaced my venerable Samsonite luggage which had non compliant locks with newer Tumi cases which did.

My guess (and it is only my guess) is that inbound to the US you are unlikely to have problems with non TSA locks (since you would only normally be asked to open your bags by customs). Your problems start when you are flying domestically within the US or leaving the US, when the TSA naturally may wish to screen your baggage.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:38 am   #5
 
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Unless security requirements have changed in the last few days, you can lock your bags going to the USA. But returning from the USA you must either leave the bags unlocked or, as said above, use a TSA approved padlock.

I buy the TSA padlocks at drugstores in the US as they're cheap for sometimes the baggage inspectors don't reattach them after opening a bag.

Don't do as I once did, early on when these regulations came into force, and leave a padlock on the outside of the bag (ie attached to one end of the zipper). The baggage inspectors just cut off the zipper ends, thus making the bag unusable.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 9:41 am   #6
 
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Thanks all. So is it not easy to get a master key for these locks if you're a criminal/corrupt baggage handler and steal from them and lock them again?
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Old Jan 4, 10, 9:47 am   #7
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Originally Posted by FlyingHighlander View Post
Thanks all. So is it not easy to get a master key for these locks if you're a criminal/corrupt baggage handler and steal from them and lock them again?
Locks never stopped anybody. Look at all the complaints in other fora about missing items from luggage and probable TSA searches where a calling card hasn't been left. And remember the line, "If you want to see you things again, don't check it".
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Old Jan 4, 10, 9:50 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by FlyingHighlander View Post
Thanks all. So is it not easy to get a master key for these locks if you're a criminal/corrupt baggage handler and steal from them and lock them again?
It probably is but your average thief is looking for an easy target (an unlocked bag)

If you can't get (or don't want to pay for) a TSA approved lock then some cable-ties are probably as effective a deterrent. (although then you have the chicken and egg situation of where to carry something to snip them open at your destination!!)
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Old Jan 4, 10, 11:52 am   #9
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Originally Posted by matthewuk View Post
It probably is but your average thief is looking for an easy target (an unlocked bag)
On the other hand maybe locked bags contain more expensive things than unlocked bags, otherwise they might be unlocked, so a possible incentive to go for the locked bags.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 1:09 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by FlyingHighlander View Post
Thanks all. So is it not easy to get a master key for these locks if you're a criminal/corrupt baggage handler and steal from them and lock them again?
It's best to consider baggage locks as protection against the accidental opening of bags/spillage and loss of contents in transit.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 2:01 pm   #11
 
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Hi,

I always use cable ties - you can get a big pack of them from the Pound shop.

There are loads of videos on Youtube showing how to a) open padlocks and b) open a suitcase with a zip round.

Just never pack anything valuable in a suitcase (like DUH, I know )

Always remember to stick a few spare cable ties in to fasten your case on the way back.

Cheers,
Karen
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Old Jan 4, 10, 3:57 pm   #12
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Thanks all. Points noted about security and not to pack anything I couldn't bear to never see again in checked baggage. I've purchased a TSA approved lock - one made by "Travel Sentry". It has a 3 digit number thing, and a TSA keyhole that has the words next to it "TSA 005" - do they use, or change, TSA keys periodically, hence reason for them being on No 5 these days?

Thanks for idea about cable ties - I've already got a huge pack and shall take some with me just in case.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 4:02 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Msclelovr View Post
Unless security requirements have changed in the last few days, you can lock your bags going to the USA. But returning from the USA you must either leave the bags unlocked or, as said above, use a TSA approved padlock.
As a regular traveler to and from the US this is indeed correct.

I also lock bags with TSA approved luggage straps/locks. No problems so far in the years I've used them other than general wear and tear.
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Old Jan 4, 10, 5:14 pm   #14
 
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As a minor word of caution. I once had a TSA-approved lock smashed open (and zip destroyed) by an over-zealous someone or other. And this was to the USA. It was some years ago (but after 9/11) so I can't remember whether they left a note or not. Certainly nothing was stolen since infact, I had left the lock by accident on an empty compartment.

Since then, I've never locked my luggage, not checked anything too valuable, and not had major issues.

tb
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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:01 pm   #15
 
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I can't remember whether they left a note or not
The TSA only inspect bags on domestic flights within the USA, or on flights leaving the USA. They (obviously) don't inspect flights going into the USA - so that's there was note
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