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Locking Your Luggage; the How & Why of It

Security measures regarding International air travel have been increasing in vigor over the last 15 years since the September 11 tragedy in 2001. With recent mass-murders and terrorist events happening in major cities and airports around the globe (multiple times this year alone), airports everywhere are sure to acclimate their security measure to the changing times.

Safety is not left only to the Security Agents at most airports. Passengers sometimes take it upon themselves to lock their luggage, mainly for anti-theft measures, but also for the concern of having items planted in suitcases without the knowledge of the owner. The world has seen many cases of persons traveling internationally and being arrested on arrival due to the contents of their bags.  Depending on where you may be traveling to, it can be a bureaucratic nightmare and potentially jail terms depending on what was found in the luggage. Once the illegal items are in the bag, it is not likely to be proven the contents did not belong to who the luggage owner.

For example, Schapelle Corby, an Australian native, was imprisoned for 9 years in Indonesia. She was originally convicted in South-East Asia in 2005, and sentenced to 20 years in prison for smuggling drugs into the country. She claims the drugs were planted in her luggage during her travels from Australia. In 2007 the sentence was successfully appealed and she is now free from prison and on parole until July 2017. She cannot return home until her parole is complete.

Locking your luggage may seem like a useless, time-consuming process in the already frustrating event of traveling by plane. However, it is a necessary evil and one that should not be taken lightly when preparing yourself for domestic or international flights. The locks themselves are relatively cheap, they can range from $5-$30 (or more) depending on the security level you feel necessary to protect your belongings. One should note before purchasing a luggage lock there is a list of approved locks the TSA has endorsed to be appropriate for flight. The TSA sets the regulations and approved lock list as they have the right to screen all checked luggage. Security Agents have the tools to open the locks on the approved list, if you happen to purchase one that is not on the list your luggage will most likely be broken into by security, the lock being thrown away as it is no longer useful. This comes at no-cost to the TSA because they are ensuring the safety of all persons traveling by air.

There are two lock companies with certified TSA-approved locks, these are; Travel Sentry and Safe Skies. These companies are not only recognized by TSA but by airport security around the world. Once purchased, Airport Security should open your lock, peruse your belongings and then once again lock your bag and send it on its way. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In 2011, the TSA received 3500 complaints from consumers who said their luggage had been tampered with. 25% of these consumers had TSA approved locks.

Though it is not a guarantee your lock will remain on your luggage throughout an entire air-travel journey it is wise to purchase the approved locks in order to improve the chances the lock will not be broken. Travel Sentry locks are recognizable by the red diamond logo. Travel Sentry does not sell any product, or create the locks being sold. They simply set the standards with which locks should be made according to security guidelines. Third party lock manufacturers apply to be approved by the company, and if the approval is given the lock is braded with the diamond logo. The Travel Sentry security system is used by hundreds of airports worldwide and in every airport in the USA.

Safe Skies locks are recognizable by the red torch logo on the front of their locks. Unlike Travel Sentry, Sake Skies has a patented locking mechanism that is in accordance with all international traveling laws and legislation. Baggage screeners have been trained to recognize the red torch symbol as approved locking devices. Safe Skies locks are a relatively cheap choice, their prices ranging from $3.99-$22.99 USD.

Travelling to International or domestic destinations via airplane will always come with challenges, security lines, delays, cancellations all come with the territory. Making it a little bit easier by buying a TSA approved luggage lock may save you some major headaches once you arrive at your destination. However, like most things about air travel – nothing is ever guaranteed.

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