View Full Version : Disappearing TSA Padlocks...

12th Jul 2008, 13:06
This is probably just me, so please excuse me unburdening myself...

So far this year, I've lost three TSA-approved padlocks, when (presumably) my hold baggage has been searched (I have no problem with that - anyone prepared to search my dirty laundry after a week away from home immediately has my respect, anyway), but then the padlock has not been put back on afterwards, and my bag arrives on the carousel with the zip partly-open.

This time I took the issue up with the handling agent, who was appropriately sympathetic, but who commented that it's not worth putting a padlock on hold luggage, because "they'll get in anyway".

Now, I never put anything in hold luggage that I'm not prepared to lose forever (if you see what I mean), but was wondering what other peoples' thoughts and experiences were.

Best Regards,


Final 3 Greens
12th Jul 2008, 13:09
I stopped going to the USA 3 years ago, its just not worth the aggro anymore.

If they want to run their country in this way, fair enough, but I am not playing.

Checking in unlocked luggage makes me very uncomfortable and the whole concept of padlocks with master keys is simply insane - the ones I have received a filling of epoxy resin to stop the tea leaves getting in.

12th Jul 2008, 13:19
I agree with you re the states way too much hard work and damage to your property combined with rude and unhelpful immigration agents!!! As for the tsa lock i know its painful but think yourself lucky, as crew i purchased a top of the line samsonite hardcase only to pick it up in syd after a flight from sfo to find all three of its locks jimmied open(unfixable because they damaged the actual case) and the bag taped up with gaffa tape despite the locks being tsa approved.. then opening the bag to find a pathetic letter stating your bag got searched if we damaged it too bad....
Its totally wrong that they can take your personal property which is quite frankly stealing no matter what safety spin you put on it, however there really isnt anything we can do..

12th Jul 2008, 13:52
Atlantean, I hear you. It is most annoying. I don't have TSA locks, but in the past I have accompanied my luggage to the TSA scan, and verified that the locks have been put on and closed again by making the TSA guy show me. Of course, that doesn't particularly endear you to the TSA staff, but, in Catherine Tate's eternal words.... "Face? Bovvered?"

Recently on my flight out of TXL I had my bags opened. They were locked and all that, but imagine my surprise opening them and finding a letter from Flughäfen Berlin on top explaining that my bag of equipment required a secondary inspection (I suppose a bag containing lead glass items leaves big black marks on the secondary x-ray scans).


12th Jul 2008, 16:40
Checking in unlocked luggage makes me very uncomfortable and the whole concept of padlocks with master keys is simply insane

I agree, especially flying into the likes of Indonesia, Singapore or Thailand.

On the Spot
13th Jul 2008, 11:07
The TSA are indeed a bunch of crooks - having had stuff pilfered from my cases too. and found the usual note inside the case whose locks they have destroyed.
They even manage to delay cases when transferring even though I can stand and watch the case go through their machine.
I don't like going to the US either for that reason.

Al Fakhem
13th Jul 2008, 11:20
Also had one or two instances where my case was searched by TSA and - apart from missing locks - they also "repacked" my baggage so that some garments were protruding throught the seal between lid and base.

I've also stopped travelling to the US and have avoided doing any business there, too, since 2004.

13th Jul 2008, 18:15
If they have to cut off a non-TSA lock, they're supposed to re-secure your bag with cable ties (zip ties).

At MSY, I was asked to help a very friendly TSA guy by providing the key to my bag strap (it's more a shaped tool than a key, really) because he didn't have anything to poke into the slot to turn it. He then cut the cable ties that I use instead of locks whenever flying from a US airport. I then stood and watched him search the bag, which was done well and carefully. He then re-packed everything just as carefully, and then turned to me and asked me if I had any more cable ties - because he hadn't been provided with any.

It was very good of him. And I did have more, which I was able to direct him to. But that goes to show how badly the TSA is run.

So as for expecting your TSA locks to be put back on afterwards? Dream on.

13th Jul 2008, 18:51
They have morons working on Immigration and they give them guns, weird eh.

It is clear than the TSA are dire as they dont trust them with guns at all.

I saw some in Florida who were so old, they could not walk let alone run. One guy was wearing slippers as opposed to shoes.

13th Jul 2008, 22:01
I guess I've been very lucky with the TSA. Mainly San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas and Dayton. Phoenix they seem so slick on a Sunday afternoon you don't have time to put your case down while waiting in line before you're moving. Dayton, somewhat pedantic. I guess they're not ueed to pax going international. San Diego, no problem. DFW, they were fast and efficient and polite.. Does it help if you travel Business or First Class? don't know, except that travelling First internally, you appear less likely to get a SSSS on your boarding card than if you're travelling economy - which in view of 9/11, seems crazy. But we are talking about an agency that seems to have stupidity of its top management as a primary requisite.

At the end of the day, I still think it gives employment to a lot of people without enhancing security. Regrettably, pax have to pay for it........

14th Jul 2008, 09:22
my son arrived in the US the other day, and the TSA padlock on his luggage had disappeared (but nothing missing except the padlock) :confused:

When traveling as a crew from the US, from every airport we get different instructions. They instruct us depending on the airport to leave luggage open, or not to put a padlock or they´ll break it, or like in LAX where you have to wait until they have decided if they want to open your luggage or not. Of course they always want to open my luggage, so they ask me my code (in front of everybody of course) when they should have the keys to do it, that´s the whole point of having expensive TSA approved padlocks :rolleyes:

I´ve stopped long ago trying to find some logic in all this.

14th Jul 2008, 10:12
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones then who can say that they've been to the states twice in the last 18 months and both times didn't have my luggage searched and still have my TSA locks in tact... Mind you, I was travelling to Washington Dulles... and anybody who's flown internationally there knows how overcrowded it is. I'm surprised they have enough time to send everybody's bags through the X-Rays before the flight leaves

14th Jul 2008, 11:19
I recently flew EWR-LHR and got back with one case checked and TSA lock missing, one unchecked and lock intact. I was odd as the bag that wasn't searched definately looked stranger in the X-ray than the one that was.

14th Jul 2008, 12:04
I had a lock/zip/strap ripped off of my bag on my last trip, I know someone was in my bag as it wasnt how I packed it and the bag is now unusable. OK, so the bag is a couple of years old now and nothing was taken, but it was a sturdy canvas fisherman/offshore holdal which wasnt cheap.....should have lasted a couple more years at least.

.......Naturally I didnt notice until I was at home and tried to open it using the non-existant zip....

So who do you complain to?

Its like the rest of the security bullshit - put up and shut up...

14th Jul 2008, 13:43
If it is very recent, take photographs, then claim back from the airline.


14th Jul 2008, 15:58
I thought that If it is very recent, take photographs, then claim back from the airline. wouldn't work if it was the TSA/customs who damaged the bag, so I had a look at the BA website. I was very surprised to see that they state

The air carrier is liable for destruction, loss or damage to baggage up to 1,000 SDRs (approximately £820 or EUR 1,230). In the case of checked baggage, it is liable even if not at fault, unless the baggage was defective. In the case of unchecked baggage, the carrier is liable only if at fault.

I don't know if all airlines state the same, but I'm amazed that they haven't got an exclusion for security inspection damage.

15th Jul 2008, 20:54
"This time I took the issue up with the handling agent, who was appropriately sympathetic, but who commented that it's not worth putting a padlock on hold luggage, because "they'll get in anyway"."

I agree, unfortunately. I don't check anything valuable. I just don't lock luggage.

As far as theft is concerned, I think the airline baggage handlers are part of that too. At Washington Dulles, they have caught baggage handlers with sets of TSA-lock master keys.

15th Jul 2008, 22:38
Oh that's very reassuring to know... :-\


15th Jul 2008, 22:57
Isn't it just? Mind you, I'm really not surprised. Dulles is severely overcrowded and understaffed. And if anyone did take a peek in my bags while I was out there last year, all they would have found was some very cheap clothes purchased from a UK supermarket chain...

17th Jul 2008, 14:09
Dulles is the pits.

Most USA airpoirts are deeply unsafe, maddeningly understaffed, run on window dressing security procedures executed by barely literate, ill-mannered, power mad sub-human so-called security personel.
And as La Flyblue wrote, the experience is exactly the same (and often worse) for us crew.

The 911 perps did after all take a few flying lessons, ergo all cockpit and cabin crew are potential terrorists and should be treated like the scum of the earth security risks we so obviously are.

This happened to me a few weeks back: link (http://www.pprune.org/forums/jet-blast/333357-tsa-does-stand-stupid-oles.html)


19th Jul 2008, 09:35
I've never had problems with the TSA, but I have had a TSA-approved lock cut off on a domestic flight within Malaysia. Do the security bods in other countries have access to TSA keys?

19th Jul 2008, 20:40
I refuse point blank EVER to fly to that ridiculous country called the USA as a civilian airline passenger.

I've told the company for whom I do consultancy work that, under no circumstances, will I ever accept any work in the USA. I simply refuse to be treated in the manner TSA seem to consider acceptable.

A shame really, it was always fun flying to the US when I was a military pilot.