Use of luggage locks on Airlines in Europe

I will be traveling to Europe in a few weeks on Delta to Paris. I have a roller bag which I usually bring on the airplane. No problem there. Coming home however part of my flight is on Air France from Venice to Paris and then Delta from Paris to the US. Air France has a more restrictive luggage policy and I am pretty sure I will have to check my roller bag. I have the TSA locks I use mostly to just make sure my zippers stay shut as I usually have the bag with me. But coming home, can I use the TSA lock? Does Europe check inside luggage like TSA does? I am sure they will in Paris with the flight ending in the USA. Can the TSA agents (whatever they are called in Europe) open the locks also? I hate to just leave my luggage totally unlocked for that long trip home?

Posted by Sherri
85 posts

Thanks everyone. Looks like we will bring cable ties to use on the way back.

Posted by JerryG
winston salem, nc, usa
720 posts

Over the last 5 years, I have averaged between 3 and 5 trips to the EU annually, from both Eastern and Western Europe, and with all kinds of inter-lining and have never locked a bag or lost anything, and that includes the average 3 bottles of Grappa I try to bring back each trip. Don't recall if ever security has opened my bag while in the EU. My opinion is that the average black roll-aboard isn't interesting to a thief looking for a high return on his/her effort, however, the priceier the luggage, the more likely it will be the bait.
If something is important to you, computer, Ipad, camera, ect, carry it.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12661 posts

Yes, security bag checks is about the same as in the US. Bags will be opened if the xray looks funny. So called TSA locks are worthless in Europe and will be broken if necessary to search the luggage. For us, in all of our travels in Europe and US, we use the heavy nylon cable ties to secure zippers on our luggage. And from to time they are cut off, luggage searched, and another cable tie replaced it. We know that because our cable ties are a heavy, white nylon and they are replaced by a colored, light weight tie.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21411 posts

Sherri, I prefer to have my checked luggage "secured" during transit for the same reason you mentioned, to ensure that the zippers stay closed. With the motion of being tossed around by baggage handlers, it's easy for them to open. As someone else mentioned, using TSA-approved Locks in Europe is no guarantee that they won't be cut-off if the Screeners detect something "abnormal" inside. I've found that to be the case when using Euro budget flights. I typically carry both Cable Ties (as Frank mentioned) as well as some of Rick's disposable Flight Locks, and tend to use either of those when flying within Europe. The Flight Locks are numbered, so it would be easy to tell if one had been removed and replaced with a similar product. Happy travels!

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
797 posts

My luggage with TSA locks was opened and searched both going to and coming from Germany. They must have TSA keys in Munich now, becasue my lock was not broken.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

We have had our luggage searched (opened?) numerous times flying both to and from Europe. They seem to be able to open and re-lock the TSA locks, as we have found little notes inside our "locked" bags when we got home. We now just use the plastic ties.
( have lost various items in these security searches, but not often- once all my unused slide film disappeared and I had to run around replacing it when we first arrived)

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4006 posts

Be sure - in general - you have some way to get into your bags after you retrieve them...:-( Not really a concern if you're just coming home, especially if the overseas airport gets snippy (hey! a pun! sorry...) with your nail clippers being in your carry-on luggage. Paper clips work in a pinch, too; mainly just to keep the zippers from opening on their own. **I ASKED my husband last time we flew if he had his clippers in his CARRY-ON bag...and NOT in the cable-tied bag...(and he knows it)...

Posted by Sherri
85 posts

Good point Eileen. I will have to be sure and remember that....Thanks

Posted by David
Lititz, PA, USA
4 posts

Just gave my g/f my two TSA locks for her and her familys' trip to Germany. Not only were both locks missing but so was the zipper pulls on both suitcases that had my TSA locks! I was expecting the possibility of having the locks removed on the return trip to the US but this was from Newark, NJ to Frankfurt, DE.

Posted by Kathy
Cary, NC
687 posts

@David - one post would have been enough... If you flew out of Newark you were still dealing with the TSA. No excuse for the zipper pulls disappearing, though. Did you file a complaint? I'm flying out of Newark myself later this year, not encouraging news.

Posted by Gary
Round Rock, Texas, United States
1 posts

@David - I experience the same thing EVERY time I travel through Newark....missing zipper pulls on checked baggage. In fact, I travel to Austin, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Maui, Phoenix, LAX, Salt Lake, Richmond, Dulles, Las Vegas and more on a regular basis with checked luggage for work......this is the ONLY airport (Newark) where it's ALWAYS guaranteed that one or more of my zipper pulls will be ripped off my luggage!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4006 posts

With apologies to Sherri...since this thread is now awake, or 'undead', or whatever, I'll add something to my post :-) In my checked luggage, I always include a (typically-sized) 8"x11" piece of paper with my itinerary info on it - name, maybe an address (home or work or destination - whatever you feel comfortable leaving), email address, phone number of the phone I'm traveling with (or at least I can access the voice mail), flight info (flight number, date, cities) in case my luggage tag goes bye-bye. I place this right across the top of my stuff, front and center, and under tie-down straps if possible. *** I also include extra zip/cable ties with instructions to 'please replace any ties removed when searching this bag' (not that instructions are really needed - the set-up is pretty self-explanatory). Those ties have been replaced every single time...domestic or far...! My luggage stays secure, longer, since I provide those replacement ties. Luggage still goes through many hands after being searched - baggage handlers on the tarmac, the carrousel, etc., so I want those ties replaced. The easiest way to do this is simply to use the tip of a cable and gently poke a tiny hole into the paper, then thread it under and back up through the paper in another tiny hole. You could also use tape, but you probably won't have access to it while traveling (unless you're really on the ball and prepare these well in advance of your departure from home!). Don't forget those easy-to-get-to nail clippers ;-)

Posted by Sherri
85 posts

Here I am two years later and my thread is still active??? Anyway, I have been back to Europe again this last May and used the cable ties again (with a nail clipper handy) with no problems all over Europe. I use the TSA locks only for carry on that I want to keep secure and for flights in the US.