Locking bags returning CDG to USA

Flying PHL to CDG and back. Outbound, TSA requires locks with a master key on checked bags so they can inspect them. Fine, I will do that. But what is the security procedure for locking checked baggage returning from CDG (Paris) to the USA? I asked my airline and they said ask TSA; I asked TSA and they said there was no standard procedure from France to the USA, so they don't know. TSA doesn't know??? I searched the French government web sites for clues, I searched the web site of the agency that runs CDGboth no help. My travel agent told me to lock the bag outbound from the USA per TSA regulations, the unlock the bag completely on the return legand pray your stuff is still there when you get home. I want to lock my checked suitcase on the flight back to the USA but if I use the TSA approved lock, will the French security folks rip my bag open? Have any of you checked a bag lately at CDG for the return flight to the USA? What has been your experience? James

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7949 posts

French security inspectors are not TSA. Any security/customs inspector can pop a lock if desired. Probably the most you could lose is the stupid lock. I make a few dozen international flights a year and have never lost anything. I don't use locks. I pass through Roissy anywhere from twice to six times a year.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10844 posts

I use the plastic wire ties both in the US and Europe. If they want to open the bags, they will cut the tie off I will have lost a nickel. There have been reports here of TSA locks being removed and lost. The only reason I lock my bag is to insure that it stays closed and maybe a little theft discouragement. But for the most part theft is not a big problem. Personally, I think the TSA lock is nothing but a market scam as anyone can get a master key. So why use it?

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

I fly into and out of CDG a couple times a year and have never locked my bags. My husband uses a TSA lock both ways and has never had a problem. I just can't remember the combination or where I put the key.

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
834 posts

Like Frank, I believe that the TSA locks are a scam. If I do check my bag, I lock it with a zip tie. I have a plastic bag with extra zip ties and a note thanking them for the inspection and asking them to resecure my bag. Sometimes they do sometimes they don't.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

TSA does not require you to lock your bags. They only require approved locks IF you do. I also use nylon wire ties. My bag was not opened either direction this year. Last year, my bag was opened en route to Spain. They cut my wire tie and replaced it with a heavier one. The only place I have ever been required to lock a bag was in China several years ago.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3297 posts

Lock them both ways with TSA approved padlocks or plastic ties. At most you lose the padlocks (or the plastic ties). I say this because there are some bags that have TSA approved locking mechanisms which are part of the suitcase itself, such as the Samsonite pictured below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TSA_Lock.JPG Don't lock your suitcase using these mechanisms, because inspectors might have to break it open and if they do a lousy job, in this case you would lose the whole suitcase, not just the padlock. If you have such suitcase (I do), use a TSA approved padlock instead of the suitcase lock pictured above. My wife's locking mechanism was broken two years ago (not sure by who, if TSA or foreign inspector), so we had to throw the whole suitcase. Fortunately the manufacturer replaced the suitcase for us at no cost.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

James, I just returned from Paris via CDG in July and locked my Pack with a TSA Lock. There were no problems and AFAIK they didn't open the pack for inspection. Using Cable Ties is also a good idea, although you'll have to ensure you have a method of cutting them once you reach your destination (keeping in mind that all your cutting implements will be inside the locked bag). The Travel Store on this website sells disposable, numbered luggage tags and I've also used those on occasion. They're considerably easier to remove than Cable Ties. Happy travels!

Posted by Paula
Arlington, TX, USA
278 posts

I use a TSA approved combination lock. All you have to remember is three digits...like your are code or some combination of your birthdate. I have worked for a major airline and believe in locks. The culprit
will pass up your bag and go to one without a lock.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

Regarding Ken's comment about needing a way to open the cable ties on arrival:
I keep a small pair of nail scissors buried in the deepest outside pocket of my bag (along with additional cable ties). They have never gone missing.

Posted by James
Philadelphia, PA, USA
2 posts

Many thanks to all who responded to my query, your messages having provided several ways in which to approach this issue. Happy Trails, James

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

I am a non locked bag person,, wondering, what do you people put in your bags worth stealing/protecting? I always have all valuables with me in hand baggage.. so all a person could steal from me would be clothes.. my clothes are not designer... so really I think even if my bag got opened and rifled through ,, it would be closed up and sent on its way! lol

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
1833 posts

I fly often and always lock my checked in suitcase. One, to encourage anyone looking for easy picking out of checked luggage to look elsewhere.
And two, to see if the TSA or whomever has opened my bag. In the very few incidents that my locks have been removed, I have always found a form letter inside my suitcase when I get it back. No, I am not paranoid, just a case of having the habit to lock it up.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

@pat, "I am a non locked bag person,, wondering, what do you people put in your bags worth stealing/protecting?" One of the reasons I lock my main Backpack is because I've found in the past that the zippers have a habit of opening during transit on the Conveyor Belts, perhaps due to motion or handling. On one occasion when the Padlock was cut off by Inspectors, the zippers were about half open when I retrieved the Pack (fortunately I didn't lose anything). I have no way of controlling whether the Pack will be inspected, but if it's sent right through I'd prefer to find the zippers closed and my contents intact. Cheers!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

Well I can see using some form of clip etc,, to keep zippers closed on packs Ken,, good point,, but I guess I am referring to suitcases,, I have thought about using one of those suitcase belts to keep a bag clasped shut sort of to take the pressure off the zippers.

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
154 posts

I never lock my bag while flying. I have never lost an item. My valuables are in my purse/underseat bag. I use quilting pins (large safety pins) to keep the bag from opening accidentally while also allowing easy access by whomever. I have had my bag searched several times...apparently due to canned cranberry sauce regularly brought to the UK...but always receive a note and the bag returned still packed. The pin allows the bag to be secured after the search by the searcher. As my bag is small and only holds clothes and the above mentioned item, there is little a thief would want. I do, however, bring a lock, but it is not a TSA lock. This is incase I want to lock the bag in my hotel room or on a train as at that point I might have chargers, etc. in it.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10844 posts

Over the years of watching luggage being load and unload I have seen a few bags open and dumping their contents. I locks my bags simply to keep them from being accidentally opened by being dropped or throw around. And if it serves as a little bit of theft prevention, then so much the better.

Posted by Linda
Austin, TX, USA
59 posts

I always use a lock and have done CDG to USA numerous times w no problem. I started always using a lock because I am not sure how it happened but my bag came down the conveyer belt completely open. I saw it come down and didn't realize it was MINE and said, "Oh that poor person, their bag is open." Luckily, I pack well with the belts inside my back secure and laundry bag on top!

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

I never lock my suitcase either - if anyone, TSA or otherwise, wants to go through my clothes, they're welcome to because that's all that's in there. But I didn't realize that zippers on suitcases can come open on conveyor belts.