Under rules by the US Transit Security Administration (TSA), you can still lock your luggage — it won’t be turned away if comes locked to the airport — but there is a slight hitch. If you luggage is locked with a lock that the TSA can’t open, they may very well cut it off to inspect the interior of your bags. There is a way around this, and it’s a very simple one to pursue if you would like to make sure that you not only maintain the security of your luggage, but also arrive at the end of your trip with your locks intact.
In order to still lock luggage when you fly, you need to purchase locks certified by the TSA. In regular stores, these will often come with a little flame logo, but most also state that they are TSA certified. Each of these special locks can be opened with TSA keys. If inspectors want to open a piece of baggage, they just use their skeleton key to open the lock and look. That way, they don’t have to mess with cutting off the locks.
Since the September 11 attacks, there have been many restrictions added to flying in the US, including those requiring people to show ID before they board a plane. As long as you keep posted on these restrictions, and especially check websites from the airlines you choose to use, you can usually comply with these requirements with relatively minimal effort. It’s always important to check with TSA regulations, since these can and do change fairly regularly. So even if you’ve flown recently, save yourself time by checking ahead to be sure you’re fully prepared for your next flight and compliant with TSA rules.
For many passengers, it is a relief to know they can still lock their luggage when they fly, and you may even find a few baggage locks at airports. It’s less expensive to purchase these in advance at luggage, department, or general stores, and you may be able to get deals if you buy more than one. You’ll note that most stores in airports mark up their products, and prices are often highest when you’re looking at something that is in high demand. On the other hand, replacing any lock can be expensive, so it may be worth it to pay the price on a lock so you can still lock your luggage when you fly. This will usually assure that your luggage will remain locked when it arrives, even if the contents have been checked by the TSA en route to its destination.