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locking luggage while in transit

7 Aug 2007 Amy said

Hi everyone, I'm just after some advice re locking luggage while it is in transit. I'm doing the Grand Canadian tour beginning 17th Aug and will be flying to New York from Melbourne Australia and want to use a padlock to lock my case while it is transit but I have heard that security staff in the US open it anyway, so I was wondering should if I go to the expense of getting padlocks if they are going to get broken or unlocked anyway. My travel agent suggested I use cable ties to "lock" my case but put a pair of nail clippers in the unlocked section to cut the ties when I get to my hotel. Has anyone tried this or have any other suggestions? I would love to hear everyone's ideas.<BR><BR>Cheers <BR>Amy
  • Read the responses 5 responses so far
  • 7 Aug 2007 Loogie said


    You can buy locks that are compatable with the the keys the TSA would use to open the locks with for security purposes. You could probably find out the speecific type of lock to get by going onto the Homeland Securirty or TSA webpages.


  • 8 Aug 2007 Nina said



    I also had the same concerns about locking my case. I only found out about the TSA locks when I arrived in the USA.

    Before leaving South Africa… my travel agent also suggested cable ties. However… I would advise against them as airport authorities can easily open them and then replace them with other cable ties.

    When I left South Africa… I used the normal small padlocks and … to be honest never had any hastles with them. I also had my luggage wrapped for security reasons.

    The only time that you need to be concerned is when u make any domestic flights in the USA.

    Also… don’t put any camera equipment or jewelry in your main bag. Rather … put those items in your hand luggage.

    I flew between LA and New York and Washington and LA. On all of these occassions… I did not lock my bag and had no problems.

    I only locked my bag when I was on the tour and when I flew into and out of the USA.

    When I left the USA… I flew out of LAX. I notified authorities that my bags were locked with small padlocks. They simply made me wait for 2 minutes while they scanned my bags. However, I had the keys to the padlocks on me.

    My advice….. use small orndinary padlocks… but only for arriving in the USA and departing the USA. If you are flying in the USA… you don’t have to lock your bags.

    Also… make sure that any precious items (jewelery, documents, camera equipment) is in your hand luggage)

    Ask airport staff… if you are unsure about anything. I found that the USA airport staff were extremely friendly and helpful.

    Also… keep the keys to your locks on hand in case you need to open your bags.

    Hope this helps

  • 8 Aug 2007 Amy said


    Thanks Nat, you have certainly reassured me, I was intending to use small padlocks and have the keys on me, that’s what I did when I went to the UK – Amy

  • 8 Aug 2007 cdm115 said


    Every airport is set up a little differently in the US, obviously. But if it’s quiet and the bag screening area is in a public spot you can watch them open your bag – and give them the keys to your locks. Otherwise stick with a TSA lock or they might cut whatever lock you have.

  • 10 Aug 2007 Nina said


    I thinks its really up to the individual.

    TSA locks are a bit expensive. I personally had no problems with the small ordinary padlocks.

    I agree that every airport is different. (Trust me I went through most of them because Contiki cancelled the tour I was going to go on- as a result … I had to fly in and out of many airports… but that is another story).

    I think the trick is to just be honest. You don’t have to lock your case when you are flying domestically. When you leave the USA… speak to airport officials… and tell them that you have locked your case. Make sure… however … that you have the keys on you.

    Don’t keep valuables in your main case. Keep them in your hand luggage.

    Remember that airport security regulations change all the time. Each airport will require different things. Some will request that you take your shoes and socks off. Some will request you to take out any hairclips.

    What I would suggest is to check what size hand luggage you are allowed to take. When I went through customs in Heathrow, many people had to check their hand luggage in as main luggage. This was because their hand luggage was too big.

    I never locked my case while flying in the USA … and I was fine. I did take extra small locks with me… just in case. But there was never any need for them.

    My best advice at airports is to stay calm, do as you are told, be honest and ask questions. Airport staff are very helpful.

    Just a side note- if you are a smoker… be warned, security will confiscate all lighters and matches.

    Hope this helps.


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