Should You Lock Your Luggage? – Your Mileage May Vary

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In the years before 9/11, most people who flew would lock their luggage. But from that horrible point forward, what would eventually become the TSA needed to have access to the inside of your bag to make sure you weren’t carrying something that would blow a plane up. So you either had to have no locks or a TSA-approved lock.

This leads to a question – should you even bother to lock your luggage?

There’s no straight answer to that question because locking your luggage has some pros and some cons.

Why you should lock your luggage

If nothing else, it’s a cheap and easy way to keep your bags a little more secure. Sure, the TSA can unlock your bags at will. But if you bring your bags onto a train, bus, etc. and have to be seated several feet away, you may feel a little more secure with some sort of lock on there.

Why you shouldn’t bother

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  • If the TSA can’t get into your lock for whatever reason, they’ll have no qualms about breaking it. They could wind up breaking the zipper on your suitcase in the process.
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  • Locks can also get stuck on baggage conveyors, which, in turn, could break the lock, the luggage zipper, or both.
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  • Like anything else, if someone really wants to get into your bag, they will. Here’s how they’ll probably do it.

If you do decide to get a lock, what should you look for?

The most important thing is to make sure it’s TSA Approved Lock. A TSA Approved Lock has the red diamond-shaped Travel Sentry logo on it (created in 2003, Travel Sentry is the group in charge of overseeing the creation and approval of luggage locks that can be opened by the TSA).

All different lock and luggage companies (Master, Samsonite, Lewis N Clark, Victorinox, SwissGear, etc.) make all different styles of Travel Sentry locks – cable locks, dial locks, straps, locks that use keys, etc.

By the way, there’s nothing stopping you from using whatever lock you have lying at home. But if the TSA decides to look through your bag and they can’t open your lock, well, like I said before, they’ll break that lock without blinking an eye.

Use a lock? Not use one? As is often the case, Your Mileage May Vary.

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