Printable Version of Topic

Click here to view this topic in its original format

The Local _ World travel _ Quick question about a checked-in luggage

Posted by: xdrfv 17.Aug.2011, 08:41 PM

The question is what the title says. I realized I only have traveled from/to the U.S., and it's the first time for me to travel from non-US country (EU) to non-US country (Asia). As some people know, it's not recommended to lock the luggage in the U.S. because the security breaks it open and investigate your stuff. How about other countries? Is that just the US recommendation or a worldwide standard???

Thanks you in advance.

Posted by: swozzie 17.Aug.2011, 08:49 PM

Really ? Security beaks open your bags ? They don't exray it or wait for you to open it for them ?

anyhow to answer your question... I fly between australasia and europe and I always lock my checked luggage.

There have been a few incidents in our part of the world where unlocked luggage has arrived with unwanted smuggled goods in it and that traveller is now doing 20 years in a balinese jail.

Posted by: xdrfv 17.Aug.2011, 09:00 PM

Good! Thank you!

Yes, the US does. They break the luggage open, investigate, just tape it around, and give the broken one back to you at a baggage pick! I heard the TSA (US transportation security administration) even sells the locks that you and TSA can only open (they have a "master key")...

Posted by: sendia 17.Aug.2011, 09:08 PM

I have traveled a lot between europe and asia, to some extend between far east and U.S,, I never used to lock my bags because I didnt care about it,,, until some one warned me abt what swozzie says. so do lock it

Posted by: Bender B Rodriquez 17.Aug.2011, 09:43 PM

I always lock my luggage and I have never had it broken into by customs even though I do about 30 international flights per year. As long as you don't keep any items that look strange on the x-rays I think you will be fine. I have a Samsonite case with side locks so even if the main lock is broken it will stay closed...

Posted by: Stickeroo 18.Aug.2011, 12:29 AM

OMG, are you guys that dull? They don't break locks, all you do is stick a pen into the zipper and open it that way, then thanks to a double zipper on all suitcases you can then close the zipper without any damage to the bag or the lock. Locking your bag serves NO purpose at all other than to ensure the zipper doesn't open on it's own or due to it being hung up on something on the belts and stuff falling out. If however you have a model where there is no zipper, they can and will use any tools necessary (including breaking the locks) to get inside. Although they will usually wait for you to come and open it, but if it's something that they think might pose an imminent danger, they will break it, cut it, or whatever. Also if US customs checks your luggage, they will usually leave a notice inside that they have opened it and done so.

For a better explanation check out

Posted by: Bender B Rodriquez 18.Aug.2011, 02:55 AM

The idea is not to prevent theft; it is super easy to open any suitcase and you should never put anything remotely valuable in checked-in luggage. The idea is to make it hard for people to put illegal stuff in your bag without your knowledge. Belive it or not but it actually happens.

Posted by: xdrfv 18.Aug.2011, 04:02 AM


Breaking locks is a true story that I have EXPERIENCED. Google "TSA broke lock" or something similar. Also, who opens the luggage to investigate is not custom staff, but SECURITY, and they do it after you check in and before it gets on the aircraft.

Anyhow, thank you all for sharing your experience. If any of you needs to travel to the U.S., do not lock the luggage no matter what city you are heading to (when they broke my luggage, I was leaving relatively a small US airport for the one in the middle of no where).

Posted by: xdrfv 18.Aug.2011, 04:52 AM

One thing to add. If your lock is a TSA approved model (only for the zipper type), it seems fine. They have a way to open it without breaking it. They don't open like what Stickeroo said. they have no obligation to repair or compensate the damage, they choose the faster way to open (cut the lock).
But if yours is a hard-shell type, you really should unlock it before checking in.

Posted by: gplusa 18.Aug.2011, 07:25 AM

It's not THAT uncommon for them to open checked-in luggage. We've had it happen a few times. A couple of times it's been obvious that they wanted to see what the snus containers were. Those TSA type locks are standard puchased items around the world, if you're that worried about it. I remember collecting our suitcase in Milan and every single compartment on our suitcase was completely unzipped. Clearly we had nothing worth stealing.

There's not a lot you can do once your luggage is checked in, so it's not really worth the stress of worrying about it. You can make it easier on yourself by not being dumb enough to take a 100 kronor boogie board overseas with you and expect people not to get a bit suspicious.

Posted by: teslar 18.Aug.2011, 08:26 AM

QUOTE (xdrfv @ 18.Aug.2011, 04:52 AM) *
One thing to add. If your lock is a TSA approved model (only for the zipper type), it seems fine.
But if yours is a hard-shell type, you really should unlock it before checking in.

Meh. You can buy hard-shell suitcases with TSA-approved locks too. In fact, it's probably becoming more and more difficult to find one that isn't TSA-approved.

Posted by: cogito 18.Aug.2011, 10:33 AM

I leave bags unlocked rather than have them broken into by the TSA.

I would not bother with the expense of TSA approved locks. The TSA has been caught several times stealing from baggage, as well as from carry-ons while passengerts are going through the pat-downs.

Use your head: don't pack anything of value. Pile dirty socks or something equally off-putting on top.

Posted by: swozzie 18.Aug.2011, 10:45 AM

The OP is using his head.

His question is not about what happens with the TSA but what happens in a non US situation

Posted by: Johno 18.Aug.2011, 10:58 AM

The OPs question is a fair one. There are non savy travellers who havent picked up on the US thing and are surprised when their bags are forced open. But this is the reverse.

My take is that outside the US you want your bag to be reasonably secure, it will only be in very extreme circustances that officials want to see inside. My only problem is that really secure hard shell cases are heavy which restricts how heavy the stuff is you can put in and anyway also means a lot of weight you have to carry to and fro. Personally we have a couple of quite well made but canvas sided bags that are light but lockable. So if someone really wants to get in they can and it wont be that hard, but it will show. We take the risk.

Your choice. If a thief can move your bag to somewhere more private they will get into anything. Otherwise something sensible fits.

Posted by: Abe L 18.Aug.2011, 02:47 PM

You should always lock your checked-in luggage and if possible your carry-on as well. The reduced risk of it accidentally opening when handled without to much care is sufficient reason. Unless your luggage comes with other options to prevent that.

It's only when traveling to the US that you need TSA approved locks if you don't want them to crack it open. In most other civilized countries you get asked to open it for customs if they have doubts after x-raying. The TSA usually also leaves a note in your suitcase if they opened it, which I've had happen a few times.

But as others have mentioned, as you have zero control over your bags after you drop them off at the airport, simply don't pack anything of serious value. There is UPS/FEDEX for that with proper insurance options.

Posted by: tes85 18.Aug.2011, 03:23 PM

After having numerous locks removed from travels here there and everywhere I just stopped using them. I instead put a luggage strap around and put the zips underneath the closure. If they want to get in they get in, security people or smuggler people. Even with TSA locks, there is still a possibility for it be removed, and either not returned or placed back on but only one zip, as in not locking it again. I'd still recommend locking it if you're concerned, just expect the lock to not be on there after. Better off not wasting the money locks and just buying those plastic zip-ties (whatever they are called)

Good luck

Powered by Invision Power Board (
© Invision Power Services (