Should I Lock My Checked Bags?

December 5, 2019


Should I lock my checked bags when I fly?


Each time you hand over your suitcase to the mercies of airline baggage handlers and TSA agents, you are probably wondering, “Should I have locked my luggage?”

 Here’s the Benefits of Luggage Locks


Locking your suitcase makes it more difficult for baggage handlers or security officers to root through your stuff at the airport. A lock can also help hold your bag’s zippers together, so they don’t work their way open while being tossed around, dropping socks and underwear on the baggage carousel.

You might also want to lock your bag if you’re traveling on a crowded bus or train. Some people even like to lock their suitcases during the day at hotels to keep nosey housekeepers at bay.


The Limitations of Luggage Locks


Putting a lock on your suitcase isn’t going to guarantee that your stuff will be safe. Do a quick google or a search on YouTube, and you’ll find lots of videos explaining how to open a combination lock without the code or how to break into a locked suitcase with only a ballpoint pen. It is also easy to slice through a soft-sided bag. Locks discourage casual thieves, who will move on to easier targets, but they’re not much protection against those who are truly determined to get inside your bag.  That’s why you should always keep your valuables in your carry-on, not your checked luggage.


TSA-Approved Locks


If you do decide to secure your suitcase, choose one of the many TSA-approved locks. You can also buy keyed luggage locks, though keep in mind that you might lose track of a tiny key while traveling. You can even purchase suitcases with built-in TSA-approved locks.


The TSA has master keys that allow their agents to open all TSA-approved locks if they determine that your bag needs extra screening. If you use a non-TSA lock, they’ll simply cut it off your bag. Note that not all security officers outside the U.S. have the master keys, so even a TSA-approved lock could be cut off if you’re traveling internationally.


Alternatives to Luggage Locks


Another way to lock your suitcase is to use zip tie or the wire bread ties, which are cheap enough that you won’t mind if the TSA slices them off. If you use the zip ties, remember to pack a small pair of scissors in an outside pocket of your checked bag.


Some travelers prefer to wrap their suitcases in plastic, which makes bags harder to break into, protects their exteriors from dings, and keeps them from bursting open if a zipper fails. This bagging service is offered at select airports.  Though security agents will cut off the plastic if they need to inspect your luggage more closely, some wrapping services offer a complimentary rewrap post-security. One disadvantage to this method: By generating so much plastic, it’s the least environmentally friendly way to protect your bag.


I personally use the old wire bread ties that you can still get when you purchase toys, electronics, etc.  They are used to hold the item on to the cardboard in the box.  It holds my zippers together.  I also travel with luggage straps around my bag.  It helps me to easily identify my bag and adds another layer of protection for broken zippers.  You need to decide what you’re comfortable with and go with it!  Happy travels


Information was obtained from ; “Luggage Locks: Should I Lock My Suitcase When I Fly?” by Sarah Schlichter / Feb 3, 2019


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Darla Logsdon

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