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Old May 21, 10, 12:18 pm   #1
 
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Plastic ties on luggage

Was planning on securing my check in luggage with a colored plastic zipper tie instead of the TSA lock during my trip to Tanzania in August. If they needed to open it, they'd cut it off and replace it with one of their generic black zipper ties. Just occurred to me, I don't know how I'd get it cut off once I'm at my location since I can't carry scissors or a knife on me? Any ideas?
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Old May 21, 10, 12:21 pm   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrscherry2000 View Post
Was planning on securing my check in luggage with a colored plastic zipper tie instead of the TSA lock during my trip to Tanzania in August. If they needed to open it, they'd cut it off and replace it with one of their generic black zipper ties. Just occurred to me, I don't know how I'd get it cut off once I'm at my location since I can't carry scissors or a knife on me? Any ideas?

Put a pair of cheap scissors or wire cutters in an outside pocket of the checked luggage, one that you can access independent of the main cavity that is sealed with the plastic ties. Even a nail clipper should work. And, actually, you could carry a nail clipper in your carry-on luggage.

By the way, you cannot assume that TSA will replace your plastic ties if the screeners need to do a physical search.

One suggestion: pack extra zip ties in the same exterior pocket of the luggage, so if the screeners cut off the ties, they will have replacements immediately available and are more likely to put them on.
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Old May 21, 10, 12:25 pm   #3
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Originally Posted by ESpen36 View Post
By the way, you cannot assume that TSA will replace your plastic ties if the screeners need to do a physical search.

One suggestion: pack extra zip ties in the same exterior pocket of the luggage, so if the screeners cut off the ties, they will have replacements immediately available and are more likely to put them on.
+1

I zip-tied a bag that I checked from MCI-IAD-LHR. When I landed in LHR, the original tie was still connected, however, I was unable to find a pair of scissors at LHR.. In the end, I used my car keys to cut the tie..
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Old May 21, 10, 12:31 pm   #4
 
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I zip-tied a bag that I checked from MCI-IAD-LHR. When I landed in LHR, the original tie was still connected, however, I was unable to find a pair of scissors at LHR.. In the end, I used my car keys to cut the tie..
See, that's the one thing that keeps me from doing this more regularly. If I'm not allowed to carry on my pocket knife, I'm not sure how I can remove the zip-tie once I get to my destination ... without wandering around asking for help ....
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Old May 21, 10, 12:34 pm   #5
 
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If you're headed to a hotel from the airport, I can pretty much assure you that you'll find a pair of scissors or a knife at the hotel.

Or put a small pocket knife (like a mini swiss knife, a cheapo) in the non-secured pocket.

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Old May 21, 10, 12:49 pm   #6
 
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I use zip ties all the time when I'm checking in expensive wine. They provide the best evidence of someone tampering with your luggage. I try to buy unusual color zip ties as that would prevent someone from opening and re-zipping and not being detected.
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Old May 21, 10, 12:55 pm   #7
 
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Hoping there is a pocket, I'm using a duffle supplied by the tour company that I haven't yet received. Nail clippers are a definite option though.
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Old May 21, 10, 1:14 pm   #8
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Originally Posted by jkhuggins View Post
See, that's the one thing that keeps me from doing this more regularly. If I'm not allowed to carry on my pocket knife, I'm not sure how I can remove the zip-tie once I get to my destination ... without wandering around asking for help ....
I even asked people behind the various rental car counters, and they told me that they were not allowed to give pax scissors....
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Old May 21, 10, 1:46 pm   #9
 
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a lighter??
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Old May 21, 10, 1:51 pm   #10
 
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I'm not really sure how having a zip tie would help regardless - is it the idea that you are going to secure the bag? So lets say you get to your destination and the tie is gone, what then? Even without the zip tie, its going to be pretty evident somone tampered with you luggage anyway once you open it - how will the zip tie change that? You'll know to brace yourself before you open it? If they are going to get in, thats not going to stop them.
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Old May 21, 10, 2:30 pm   #11
 
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I had always used zip ties and carried a small nail clipper, sans file, until one flight where my bag came down with the zip tie intact BUT a gash that went all around three edges of the top that was sealed with duct tape and the card inside that my luggage had been "opened" for inspection. When I complained about the destruction I was told that I should not have "locked" it and I would not be reimbursed. The knife that destroyed my 3 trip old suitcase could have easily popped the zip tie, guess that agent was having a bad day.
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Old May 21, 10, 3:26 pm   #12
 
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I use a small flat headed screwdriver - the sort you'd use for spectacles (eyeglasses) or for small screws on electronics. If you look at the design of cable ties you find that you can lift the locking tab with the screwdriver.

It also means you can reuse the tie
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Old May 21, 10, 3:35 pm   #13
 
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I try to buy the colored multi-pack and put one of each color into an outside pocket. I did have TSA open my bag once, and they replaced the tie with a different color. Don't make the loop too tight and you can break it by inserting a hotel pen and twisting it. Of course it may break the pen too, but it is a hotel pen so who cares. If I know I will be checking a bag round trip, I will put a cheap ($3) leatherman tool in the outside pocket since they can come in handy on the road.

Why bother? I figure it helps reduce the chance of the zipper getting pulled open and dumping the contents of my luggage all over the tarmac. It may also send a thief on to the next easy target without a tie, or with a TSA lock they have a key for.
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Old May 21, 10, 4:05 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by tev9999 View Post
I try to buy the colored multi-pack and put one of each color into an outside pocket. I did have TSA open my bag once, and they replaced the tie with a different color. Don't make the loop too tight and you can break it by inserting a hotel pen and twisting it. Of course it may break the pen too, but it is a hotel pen so who cares. If I know I will be checking a bag round trip, I will put a cheap ($3) leatherman tool in the outside pocket since they can come in handy on the road.

Why bother? I figure it helps reduce the chance of the zipper getting pulled open and dumping the contents of my luggage all over the tarmac. It may also send a thief on to the next easy target without a tie, or with a TSA lock they have a key for.
If the suitcase is the kind that uses just a plastic zipper like most rollers it really doesn't matter if it is locked or zip tied. All that is needed to open it is a simple ballpoint pen.

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Old May 21, 10, 4:26 pm   #15
 
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rinnylynn, welcome to Flyertalk!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rinnylynn View Post
...until one flight where my bag came down with the zip tie intact BUT a gash that went all around three edges of the top that was sealed with duct tape and the card inside that my luggage had been "opened" for inspection.
Do you know at which airport this pointless destruction of your property was done? How long ago?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rinnylynn View Post
When I complained about the destruction I was told that I should not have "locked" it and I would not be reimbursed. The knife that destroyed my 3 trip old suitcase could have easily popped the zip tie, guess that agent was having a bad day.
Was this response from TSA, or from the airline?

There is no excuse for such pointless destruction of property; sorry you had to deal with this.

To OP: I too use zip-ties in bright colors as mentioned by other posters, as well as TSA locks with indicators, depending on which luggage a trip requires. Either way, I know as soon as I my bag comes off the carousel whether it has been invaded, and can document that any losses occurred while it was in the airline's/TSA's control. (When I have to travel heavy, substantial effort and expense is at stake; expat relatives have requested U.S. goods or replacement parts, or I may need activity-related clothing and equipment for holidays with them.) Have had TSA 1) cut zip-ties and replace them with black/white ties, 2) cut but not replace them, and 3) cut then leave zippers open. They also cut, or fail to replace, TSA locks quite often.

A determined thief can get into any luggage; my philosophy is to make mine less inviting. I don't use luxury brands either; I assume thieves expect an $800 Vuitton far more likely to contain comparably valuable booty than a $100/set Costco wheelie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firebug4 View Post
If the suitcase is the kind that uses just a plastic zipper like most rollers it really doesn't matter if it is locked or zip tied. All that is needed to open it is a simple ballpoint pen.
The easiest way, so long as you remember to leave enough space for the pen, and no solicitious TA "helpfully" tightens it as you check in!

(Now I usually trim the ends to a stub.)

(edit) Doh, you meant that the zipper itself is insecure, sorry. This too is a vulnerability. Again, it's impossible to deter all theft, but deterring casual theft takes little effort, and is worthwhile when it works.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; May 21, 10 at 5:47 pm.. Reason: merge consecutive posts
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