The Best TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

Updated on August 7, 2018
greenmind profile image

GreenMind is a world traveler who writes about style, fitness, and travel tips.

Travel Smart With a TSA-Approved Luggage Lock

According to the Daily Mail, there were more than 200 thefts per day from checked luggage at JFK Airport in New York in 2012. Worse, it was claimed that airport employees were doing all of the thieving, and that the airlines often just marked items as "lost." If you have had items mysteriously go missing from your checked luggage, this story may not surprise you. While it's nearly impossible to completely prevent theft from your checked bags, there are steps you can take to at least slow down a creep trying to sneak into your luggage to see what they want to take. One of these measures is a TSA-approved luggage lock.

"A CNN story on the TSA from 2010 to 2014 found people filed 30,621 claims of missing valuables, either from checked luggage or disappearing at security checkpoints."

— Forbes.com

A TSA-Approved Luggage Lock: What It Is and How It Works

A TSA-approved luggage lock is simply a small combination or hasp padlock that fits into the ends of your luggage zipper. When it's locked, the zipper can't be opened and no-one can just open your bag and take whatever looks good. But since TSA agents sometimes need to open luggage for security reasons, you can't just lock your bags and leave. Locks that are TSA-approved have a a feature that allows security to open and check your bag with a master key. When they're done checking, they lock your luggage back up and you're good to go.

These luggage locks are used by millions of travelers every day, and are described as a basic theft prevention tactic by the official TSA website.

1. UltraTuff TSA-Approved Luggage Lock - RED OPEN ALERT Indicator

This is the TSA-approved luggage lock that I use, and I have never had a performance issue with it. It's tough and solid, and prevents my luggage from being opened by anyone but a TSA agent with a master key. I have traveled extensively through the years, and have always been bothered by the issue of unlocked luggage -- but using a regular lock meant I had to either be paged and run through the airport to be on hand while the TSA agent searched my bag, or find the lock had been cut off of in my absence. Both of these things have happened to me in the past!

I like this luggage lock because it's easy to deal with and very affordable. The red "open alert" is a good feature as well.

Other Features:

  • High grade zinc alloy
  • Tested to withstand the rigors of travel
  • Relock Protection: Locks ensure the TSA agent must relock your suitcase before they can remove their key. Your luggage will be relocked & secure.
  • Internal locking mechanism clicks solidly into place
  • Lock can be set to a code of your choice with easy to follow instructions & pictures.
  • Many uses: suitcases, travel bags, gym bags, lockers, laptop bags
  • Available in a variety of colors to customize your luggage
  • 365 day warranty & award winning personal customer service
  • Ships directly from the US.

Reviews for this luggage lock are very positive. Users commented on the ease of operation, the open-alert indicator, and the feature that requires TSA agents to re-lock your bag after they open it -- until they lock your luggage back up, they can't remove their master key. This takes care of one of the possible drawbacks to luggage locks. With over a thousand reviews and a 4.7 star rating on Amazon, this product is an all-around winner.

The Lock Graveyard: Non-TSA-Approved Locks Cut From Luggage

Right of Removal: Why a TSA-Approved Luggage Lock Is a Good Idea

According to travelinsurancereview.net, one of the best things a traveler can do to protect their belongings is to use a TSA-approved luggage lock. As a traveler, you have basically no privacy rights regarding your belongings whether you check them or carry them on board. TSA retain what is called "The Right of Removal" to search or remove your bags from any flight.

The Right of Removal

According to DepartSmart.com, "Privacy rights are not included in yourflight rights. Any member of airport security can open any bag at any time. These searches can be arbitrary or targeted. There is no way to keep Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents out of your luggage if they make a determination to search. They must have access for safety’s sake. In the most extreme cases, the agent will cut the lock off of the bag if necessary."

TSA-approved locks are by no means foolproof, but they are virtually your only option if you have a bag that zips closed. Small yet sturdy, these hasp locks hold the ends of your baggage zipper together so it can't be opened. You have the key, but the locks are designed so a verified TSA security agent can open the lock if necessary for screening.

2. TOOGOO Blue 4 Dial TSA Combination Padlock

I like the bright blue of these locks for two reasons. One, their presence on your luggage is hard to miss on the baggage carousel, so you won't accidentally pick up someone else's bag, which has happened to me, and probably also to you, and can be just a little embarrassing. Two, they could make a thief think twice about picking up a bag with such a distinguishing feature. Thieves prefer darkness and uniformity, and a bright blue lock makes their work a little bit harder.

This lock also has a four-digit code, which may make it more difficult to pick. But no matter what the number of digits, always make sure your combination isn't 000 or 123!

Features:

  • Bright blue metal
  • 4-dial combination lock for improved security
  • Tri-circle combination padlock
  • Perfect for lockers, tool boxes, luggage, sheds & bikes.
  • TSA-approved lock system ensures that your bag won't be damaged by an agent who needs to open it for inspection.

The Worst Airports for Baggage Theft

Open-Alert Indicators

The better-quality TSA-approved luggage locks now have an "open-alert indicator," which is simply a red button that pops up when the lock has been opened. Since TSA agents typically leave a notice in your bag that it was opened and searched, you can expect to find a note if your lock has been opened. If the lock's open-alert indicator says it's been opened but there's no notice, you need to contact the airline: someone may have illegally opened your luggage, a fact you wouldn't know if the lock hadn't told you.

3. TravelMore TSA Approved Luggage Locks

I love the innovative design of this lock, though I haven't tried them myself. Basically, you detach the long piece from the base, pass it through your bag's zipper, and lock it into the base. I don't know if this is an actual improvement over the traditional hasp design, but you have to give them points for trying.

Features:

  • One-of-a kind straight barrel luggage lock
  • 100% Travel Sentry complaint
  • Made from high-strength zinc alloy.
  • Stem easily slips through zipper pulls, duffle bags, purse latches, computer bags, backpacks, suitcases, briefcases and most carry-on items.
  • Includes two keys
  • 100%, no questions asked money back guarantee

These locks are very well-reviewed, with a solid 4.7-star rating on Amazon, and are in the top ten for 2018 according to the reviews on the HQText website. Reviewers found them dependable, affordable, and easy to use.

Baggage Thieves Caught in the Act

Luggage Locks Slow Thieves Down!

You can protect your belongings simply by making your luggage less attractive to a person with larceny in mind. A quality TSA-approved luggage lock will make a luggage thief think twice about breaking into your bags to take your things -- given the choice between a locked bag and an unlocked bag, thieves will typically go the easy route and open up the bag without a luggage lock.

4. Tarriss TSA Lock with SearchAlert (2 Pack)

This solidly built luggage lock is well-reviewed and has an open-alert feature that tells you if someone, even an approved TSA agent, has opened the lock and gone in your luggage, This lock is highly rated on several consumer report-type sites, and I like the design, which makes operating the combination a little easier. This luggage lock has a steel cable rather than a solid hasp; this may make it a little easier to cut, if a thief is determined to get into your bag.

Features:

  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed; Lifetime Warranty
  • Search Alert indicator turns form green to red
  • Large dials with easily visible numbers
  • Flexible cable allows for easier threading through zippers
  • high strength Zinc Alloy

This lock sports a 4.5-star approval rating from Amazon customers. Typical user reviews mention the new wider design, which also has brighter and larger numbers for easier reading.

"Overall, nearly 14,000 travelers each year report items missing from their luggage."

— Travelinsurancereview.net

Tips to Prevent Baggage Theft

  1. Avoid placing your more valuable possessions like cameras and computers in your checked luggage. Keep them with you in your carry-on bags.
  2. Write up a list of everything that's in your luggage. Don't trust your memory! Refer to the list when you arrive to make sure nothing is missing.
  3. Don't let your bags out of your sight when you are on a shuttle bus or checking in to your hotel.
  4. Brightly colored luggage deters thieves -- they don't want to be seen wheeling away your bright-green bag. Thieves prefer dark bags that look like everyone else's.
  5. Go straight to the baggage claim when you land. If you leave your bag circling on the carousel, you give thieves more time to get to it.

5. Brinks 22mm Solid Brass Luggage Lock

My experience with key locks, as opposed to combination locks, was good. The reason I switched from these strong key luggage locks to a combination was that I was worried I would lose the key. Not being a TSA agent, I didn't have a master key in case that happened.

These Brinks TSA-approved luggage locks are solid brass and look sharp. The design is classic and clean, and the manufacturer, Brinks, has been in the business of securing valuable for a long, long time. If you're looking for a good TSA lock and don't mind keeping track of keys, these are an excellent choice.

Features:

  • Solid brass construction
  • Brinks name is among the most recognized and trusted
  • Good looking locks help make your back identifiable
  • Excellent value for the price
  • Lifetime Warranty

Happy, Secure Travels!

Here's a Good Place to Find Cool Luggage Tags

Hey if you have the time, check out my recent article about some pretty cool luggage tags::

Wander Wisdom: The Best Luggage Tags

Resources

The following sources were used in writing this guide:

www.tsa.gov/blog/2014/02/18/tsa-travel-tips-tsa-recognized-locks

www.travelinsurancereview.net/tips-and-advice/travel-tips/beat-bag-thieves/

www.hqtext.com/top-10-best-luggage-locks/

www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/how-to-protect-yourself-from-rising-airport-luggage-theft

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        5 months ago

        I didn't realize there were so many types of locks for luggage. I remember dealing with combo locks in high school, takes some skill! I like your suggestions on how to prevent loss of luggage.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)