What are TSA Approved Luggage Locks?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Transportation Security Administration or TSA approved luggage locks are locks you put on your suitcase that have a master key available to the TSA. If at an airport, and a security person needs to inspect your suitcases, they need merely use the master key to open the lock.

TSA approved luggage locks can be opened with a master key.
TSA approved luggage locks can be opened with a master key.

When the the luggage locks are opened with a master key, it triggers a small red dot, which shows the lock has been opened. This way, you know that your suitcases have been inspected. Usually, those inspecting luggage also put a note into your luggage notifying you of the inspection and the reasons for it.

Normal luggage locks may be cut off by TSA agents.
Normal luggage locks may be cut off by TSA agents.

TSA approved luggage locks can provide great convenience to those who want to keep the contents of their luggage secure. While you can use a normal lock to lock your suitcase, the TSA has the right to cut it off. If your luggage is inspected and you have TSA locks, you still have a lock after the inspection. Also, if anything is missing from your suitcase after an inspection, you can file a claim for it with greater ease. Lastly, if these locks are cut off, most companies that sell them offer a lifetime replacement.

Most TSA approved luggage locks have a combination, which you can change once you get the lock. A person opening the locks with a master key cannot change the status of a lock that has been opened unless they know your combination. So if anything in your luggage has been taken or lost, you can attribute it to the person inspecting your luggage.

Because of this safety feature, it is unlikely that an unscrupulous person who was inspecting luggage would take anything from suitcases featuring these special locks. The tamper feature would automatically be triggered, rendering the actions of a person quite traceable. This often gives people, in this age of heightened security at airports and greater license of inspection of luggage, greater feelings of ease when traveling.

TSA approved luggage locks are fairly inexpensive. They are sold at travel stores, luggage stores and widely on the Internet. If they carry the label TSA approved, especially when bought from a reputable source, they should be able to be opened by airport security if needed.

Airline passengers within the United States must follow Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules regarding luggage locks.
Airline passengers within the United States must follow Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules regarding luggage locks.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I don't think safe skies honors their replacement lock if it gets clipped anymore. I submitted the form and it came back not deliverable and when I used their contact form they never responded. Bad customer service it would appear!


Security has destroyed two suitcases and I don't even lock them. They force zippers that merely expand the suitcase and when they don't open the case up they rip them apart. I hate the effing national security. It's a facade anyway to appease stupid people. If someone is going to bring a bomb onboard then they are going to bring a bomb onboard and it won't be in a suitcase. Jerks.


In Australia the locks need to be the ones released by Safe Skies.

I bought a couple recently online that are simple and seem to work. I have not flown with them yet, and not sure if it covers both international travel and domestic, but thought hey, why not go for one that's exclusive within Australia?


What is the difference between TSA002 and TSA007? Thanks.


The problem isn't thieves, it's the NSA. I have NSA locks on my baggage and rather than use the master key, they just cut my zipper pull. This is the second bag I've had destroyed by the NSA. I'm no longer going to put any locks on luggage because it just isn't worth it.


Come on guys, you're telling me that a thief can't get hold of a "master key"? Boy are we dreaming. Keep valuables out of anything that you won't have with you.


You don't program anything - they're not electronic! You might recode them. And please come on, it's not rocket science if you have the right code to start off with.


Do all International airports have access to these master keys or do the locks only work in Canada and the US?


You should know that any baggage thief will conveniently insert a copy of the TSA inspection notice, thus the "red dot" alert is useless. However having a locked bag is better than not having one, as the choice to invade is more complicated. If they really want anything, they will just slit the bag open anyway. Bottom line, is don't pack check-in luggage with anything you can't stand to lose. By the way, the TSA frequently forgets to relock these locks, causing them to fall off en route. I have personally lost three or four in the last two years.


I just bought a suitcase with TSA lock. I tried to reprogram the 3 digit code from it's default 0-0-0 code. I thought I already followed the instructions but it couldn't open. I have tried all the combinations but still could not open it. What should I do?


I have the same problem with my TSA lock. It will not close and i can't reprogram it.


I opened my TSA approved lock (four numbers) but now it won't close. How do I reprogram it?

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