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Old Jan 4, 11, 7:35 pm   #1
 
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Does it make sense to use a TSA lock outside the US?

Supposedly only TSA in the US has master keys for TSA locks. I was in a foreign luggage shop, and they had no clue what a TSA lock is.

What if you travel outside the US? Do you have to leave your bags unsecure?
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Old Jan 4, 11, 9:19 pm   #2
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For me, since there are always going to be US segments on a foreign trip I use TSA locks. Since I have them I would use them anyway--why get different locks for foreign use??
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Old Jan 4, 11, 9:28 pm   #3
 
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I stopped using TSA locks alltogether and I primarily fly international (origin US). Last time I used one, it was cut off of my bag and the zipper tabs were damaged. I'm not sure where it happened en route, but I think it was done in Hong Kong, but it could have been LAX. I don't put anything valuable in my suitcase. If it has value, I carry it on. That probably does not work for everyone, but it works for me. If they want to dig through my bag, have at it. So far I have only lost a multi-tool, which was about the most valuable thing in there.
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Old Jan 5, 11, 12:31 am   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zencat View Post
Supposedly only TSA in the US has master keys for TSA locks. I was in a foreign luggage shop, and they had no clue what a TSA lock is.

What if you travel outside the US? Do you have to leave your bags unsecure?
You can use your TSA locks anywhere in the world, if you want to. Or you can use any other sort of padlock you choose. You do not have to leave your bags unsecured.

Most countries will page you to open your bag is they want to look inside - this even happened to me in China.

Alternatively, many people recommend using cable ties to secure their bags.

Whatever you use, you are only protecting your possessions against an opportunistic thief. A really determined thief can open your bags, regardless of how you secure them.
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Old Jan 5, 11, 6:48 am   #5
 
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
Most countries will page you to open your bag is they want to look inside - this even happened to me in China.

Alternatively, many people recommend using cable ties to secure their bags.

Whatever you use, you are only protecting your possessions against an opportunistic thief. A really determined thief can open your bags, regardless of how you secure them.
Part of the idea is to collect evidence for the purpose of filing reports and claims. Some TSA locks indicate whether they have been opened and searched. If a thief must damage the luggage to enter it, that's ideal because it creates evidence. But if security needs to cause damage to do their job, that's a problem.

I've been through a lot of airports and never heard someone getting paged to unlock their baggage. Sometimes people get paged for no given reason.. perhaps that's what's going on. But certainly there are numerous cases of peoples locks being cut, so I don't get the impression everyone is given the chance.
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Old Jan 5, 11, 1:15 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zencat View Post
Part of the idea is to collect evidence for the purpose of filing reports and claims. Some TSA locks indicate whether they have been opened and searched. If a thief must damage the luggage to enter it, that's ideal because it creates evidence. But if security needs to cause damage to do their job, that's a problem.

I've been through a lot of airports and never heard someone getting paged to unlock their baggage. Sometimes people get paged for no given reason.. perhaps that's what's going on. But certainly there are numerous cases of peoples locks being cut, so I don't get the impression everyone is given the chance.
If you have suffered loss or damage, surely it is irrelevant whether that was done by security or some other thief?

I don't put anything valuable in my luggage and I doubt that the value of my lost/ damaged items would be greater than the excess on my insurance anyway, so I am not likely to be making a claim.

I use TSA locks everywhere, because those are the locks that I have and because I occasionally fly through the USA. So far, I have been to 63 countries and have yet to have a lock cut off. On the other hand, I have been paged to open luggage in China (for a small penknife) and in Abu Dhabi (for phone charging plug and leads).

FWIW, I only use padlocks to make sure the bag stays zipped and to slow down a thief looking for a quick, easy opportunity. I am under no illusion that the padlock will stop a determined thief - I just hope that, given the choice between a locked bag and an unlocked one, most will choose the easier option of the unlocked bag.

I also travel through Asia a lot and there have been stories (true or not) of drugs being placed inside unsuspecting travellers' bags. There again, I'm hoping that the unlocked bag will be chosen instead of mine.
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Old Jan 5, 11, 1:27 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zencat View Post
Part of the idea is to collect evidence for the purpose of filing reports and claims. Some TSA locks indicate whether they have been opened and searched. If a thief must damage the luggage to enter it, that's ideal because it creates evidence. But if security needs to cause damage to do their job, that's a problem.

I've been through a lot of airports and never heard someone getting paged to unlock their baggage. Sometimes people get paged for no given reason.. perhaps that's what's going on. But certainly there are numerous cases of peoples locks being cut, so I don't get the impression everyone is given the chance.
Look at it this way: TSA locks or ordinary padlocks? Only the USA has keys to the TSA locks and they often do not use them. So, when traveling outside the USA, either you will be paged to open your bags, or someone will open them in your absence. If that happens, your lock is going to get cut, no matter what sort you use.

So, back to the original question: if you want to lock your luggage when going overseas, you can use a TSA lock, or any other lock of your choice. It makes no difference. The only place where TSA locks are needed is in the USA.

If you have TSA locks, it makes sense to use them, rather than buy other locks, especially if you are returning to the USA, where TSA locks are required.
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Old Jan 5, 11, 2:04 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
I also travel through Asia a lot and there have been stories (true or not) of drugs being placed inside unsuspecting travellers' bags. There again, I'm hoping that the unlocked bag will be chosen instead of mine.
Some stories are true, AFAIK. Others are drug smugglers attempting to avoid a death sentence for drug possession or trafficking. The Schapelle Corby case is a case in point, but regardless of the debate as to whether she had drugs knowingly the actual fact is that she was caught with a bag containing drugs and she she admitted the bag was hers. The law in Indonesia defines possession as a death penalty, without regard for how the drugs came into her possession. She clearly broke Indonesian law. Other nearby countries have similar laws - there was a case a few years ago of an Australian in transit in Singapore being caught after he triggered a metal detector. He was eventually executed since the drugs in his possession exceeded the amounts where mandatory death penalty kicked in.

I lock my luggage for a little deterrence and also for evidence of tampering. I never use TSA locks - I fail to see the point in using a lock that has master keys in existence. I use a good quality small padlock, and if in TSA land I use multiple coloured cable ties, or those numbered cable ties. I am far more concerned about something being added to my luggage and then being detected at a refuelling stop in a country with draconian drug laws that I am about someone stealing my clothes.

I also attempt to avoid touching down in countries with laws like this. I don't comprehend why Australians still go to Bali!

Audrey
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Old Jan 5, 11, 9:40 pm   #9
 
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I've had no problems using my TSA approved locks when traveling to South America and India. I personally wouldn't be surprised if most countries were able to open the TSA locks.
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Old Jan 5, 11, 10:36 pm   #10
 
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It doesn't really matter if you use a lock, unless you a have a way to secure the zipper sliders in place so they can't be moved. Otherwise its easy just to separate the coil zippers and re-zip them and you'll never know it happened until you open the bag. That being said, I still use them and hope the casual thief doesn't know.
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Old Jan 6, 11, 12:12 am   #11
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I use my TSA locks everywhere. Like others, I really don't see the point of buying locks for the: 1) US, and 2) everywhere else.
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Old Jan 6, 11, 10:00 am   #12
 
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TSA locks would stop the airline baggage handlers from getting into your suitcase without having to cut or pry it open in which case you would know immediately when you claimed your baggage. I use them as a deterrent; knowing nothing is 100%, but at least I'd know if someone where in my luggage immediately other than TSA.
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Old Jan 6, 11, 12:56 pm   #13
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
FWIW, I only use padlocks to make sure the bag stays zipped and to slow down a thief looking for a quick, easy opportunity. I am under no illusion that the padlock will stop a determined thief - I just hope that, given the choice between a locked bag and an unlocked one, most will choose the easier option of the unlocked bag.
Yeah, that's all I see a lock as--making the other guy's bag a more inviting target.
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Old Mar 28, 13, 12:25 am   #14
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Just to be sure about this: only in the US someone (namely, the TSA) can open your bags, nowhere else there is such a law in practice? So if you travel wherever outside the US, it's safe to assume you can use a normal padlock on cargo luggage.

Last edited by Wayfahrer; Mar 29, 13 at 12:18 pm.
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Old Mar 28, 13, 12:06 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayfahrer View Post
Just to be sure about this: only in the US someone (namely, the TSA) can open your bags, nowhere else there is such a law in practice? So if you travel wherever outside the US, it's safe to assume you can use a normal padlock on cargo luggage/
I always lock (non-TSA) or zip-tie my bags outside the US. The US is the only place I've ever had a lock or zip-tie cut and removed.
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