We lock everything in our lives: cars, homes, offices, even phones. But do you use the luggage locks on your suitcase when you travel? There are actually a number of times when locking your bags is important–and not only before checking them in.
From electronics, to jewelry, to clothing, the value of what we pack adds up. Studies show that TSA accepts only about 1/3 of claims made. In other words, if you suffer a loss, you're not likely to recover it.
You can put a lock on your luggage if the zippers are designed for an external lock. But a much better and safer choice is luggage that comes with TSA-approved luggage locks built in.
When You Should Lock Your Luggage
There is no question whether you should lock your luggage. It’s what type of lock you use and when you should be sure your luggage is locked.
The purpose of locking your bags isn’t only to protect your checked luggage when it is out of your possession. In fact, there are many more times when using a lock to secure your carry-on and checked bags is important.
Lock Your Luggage Before You Check In
Of course, one of the most important times to lock your luggage is before it leaves your hands at baggage check. Program your combination code before you pack, then lock up before you check it in, knowing it’s secured.
Lock Your Luggage on Domestic and International Flights
Your luggage lock isn’t just for traveling between cities in the US. While not every country has similar access to TSA approved locks, most do. There is no need to stress about luggage security when crossing the ocean.
Lock Your Luggage When Leaving it at the Hotel
Often our flight schedules and hotel check-in or out times don’t line up. When you have to leave your bags for the hotel to hold, locked locks help ensure that what you packed stays where it belongs.
Lock Your Luggage at a Hostel or Air BnB
Hostels and shared Air BnB’s can have a lot of guests coming and going. Making sure that your luggage is locked will give you peace of mind when you are out exploring.
Lock Your Luggage When Transporting on a Shuttle Bus
Many buses have designated luggage storage areas. On a crowded bus, your seat may not have a clear line of sight to your bags. Lock up before you board, so you can just relax and enjoy the ride.
Stick with TSA Approved Locks
When locking your luggage, it’s important to only use TSA approved locks. Otherwise, don't be surprised when the lock is gone upon arrival, and there's a note inside your bag informing you that your lock was cut off by airport security agents for inspection.
TSA agents have a master key to open TSA-approved locks, including multiple-digit combination locks. If they’re unable to open your bag’s lock with their master key, they will end up cutting the lock to gain access to your bag. Only use TSA-approved locks to avoid this happening.
International Travel and Luggage Locks
If you travel outside the United States, you may wonder, "Can I lock my luggage on an international flight?" It's a great question because TSA is a U.S. thing, right? Actually, TSA-approved locks are recognized worldwide. If there is a red diamond (the Travel Sentry logo) on your lock, you know it is TSA-approved and recognized outside the U.S.
How Do TSA Locks Work?
TSA-approved locks are usually integrated into the side of the luggage and can be set with your own combination. Then, if your bag needs inspecting, the TSA agent can quickly open your lock, inspect the contents of your bag, and relock it before sending it on its way undamaged.
For bags without an integrated lock, a padlock style lock can be clipped onto the zippers in order to fully secure your luggage. Many of these are still TSA approved, and can be opened with the TSA luggage lock master key.