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Article - TSA Locks compromised

In September 19-25 issue of The Economist, there is an article about information published in Washington Post which has allowed persons to duplicate the keys to open "TSA-approved" locks. Apparently, the newspaper published some high definition photos of the keys that are detailed enough to allow duplication by 3d printers, and it appears that has been done.

I can't post link as I only have access to paper copy, but maybe someone else will, or knows more.

I've never used the locks anyway, but I know many people do.

Posted by
3936 posts

I only ever really thought of them as a slight deterrent...if someone steals your bag and wants to get into it, an exact-o knife will do the trick (or use a pen to split the zipper open)...the locks are more for peace of mind than actual usefulness (but yeah - good plan with the high def photos...lol).

Posted by
5750 posts

Can anyone name anything about the TSA that has not been "compromised"?

Honestly, the puny little locks I put on my bags to briefly slow down a thief (which can probably be broken open with a paper clip) getting "compromised" by someone with a 3D printer is the least of my worries.

Posted by
13674 posts

Luggage locks are such a meager deterrent that we don't bother with them at all.

Posted by
2788 posts

I fly often including going to Europe every year and I put one of those TSA approved locks on the suitcase that I check in. I only have it on the suitcase until I claim my suitcase at my destination. I use it to defer any TSA baggage inspectors in the back rooms of airports. I figure if one of them is a thief, they will rather open a non-locked suitcase rather than take the time to defeat a locked one. Peace of mind also enters into the equation.

Posted by
13674 posts

Maybe I should have mentioned that nothing of value ever goes into our checked luggage (in case the airline loses the bag) so I'm not especially worried about theft. Pretty sure they've no interest in lifting my undies?

BTW, I opened mine upon arrival in Brussels this spring to find it had been gone through: there was a note on the top indicating that it had been examined. Everything was there so no problem.

Posted by
1976 posts

I'm with Kathy - I never put anything valuable into my suitcase. I never check it unless I have to, and even then it's usually only gate-checking. I like the idea of tying the zippers together with twist-ties to prevent the bag from coming open if/when I check it, but I wouldn't bother with locks. Anyone who wants to get in there and go through my socks and underwear is welcome.

Posted by
2329 posts

I'm in the camp of no locks as well--nothing of great value in my suitcase, all in my carry-on. I use my locks only on trains, and someone here suggested a twist-tie through the loops where a lock would go and that seems to work fine for air travel.

Posted by
21846 posts

The primary purpose of locking my suitcase is to make sure it stays closed. Over my many years of travel I have seen a handful of suitcases popped open on the tarmac or even coming out of the luggage bin. We use the plastic wire ties. Occasionally the TSA will cut them off to do an inspection so nothing of value is lost.

Posted by
28 posts

I "lock" my RS Convertible zippers with split rings. Thieves can have whatever's inside my bag - although rifling through my underwear is not quite worth the biohazard risk - be my guest. Just don't steal the bag itself - I really love those bags! (I think I own every RS bag made...almost). Hey ETBD - when are you guys going to add a sternum strap like Ebags TLS Mother Lode Weekender? It would be appreciated. Off topic? Yeah, I know.

Posted by
31516 posts

As a former Locksmith, I can tell you that the small Padlocks sold for "travel" only provide a very minimal level of security. The TSA Locks provide even less security as the locks can be opened by a very simple key which bypasses the normal mechanism. I use one mostly to make sure the zippers don't open during baggage handling (which they have done on occasion). I also keep a package of the disposable plastic luggage locks sold on this website, for use if the TSA Lock is ever damaged or "missing".

The bottom line is that one should never pack anything of value in checked luggage.

Posted by
5697 posts

No locks -- Just a sturdy luggage strap (from the thrift store) to keep the bag closed in transit if/when checked. But since there's nothing valuable in there ...