It makes sense that travelers want to protect their valuables while sending their gear into the unknowns of the airport, but it’s equally important for the TSA to be able to inspect checked luggage if and when the need arises. That’s where TSA-approved and recognized locks come into play. These specially-made locks were designed to secure luggage and valuables but also allow the TSA to open your baggage when necessary.
“TSA-approved locks are vital for securing your suitcase whilst still allowing TSA officers easy access, should they need it, during the screening process,” explains Caroline Crossland, founder and resident gadget expert at Crosswalk Clan. “A proper TSA-approved lock will prevent the need for locks to be cut off or for suitcases to be damaged, as they can be opened with master keys.”
Finding a TSA luggage lock is as easy as looking for the red diamond-shaped Travel Sentry logo on the lock’s packaging. This seal indicates that the brand has collaborated with the TSA directly and is approved for bringing on board commercial aircraft while also ensuring your suitcase won’t get damaged if it’s selected for additional inspection.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t worry about having your baggage torn through without receiving notice once you land. Crossland notes that if this happens, the TSA will leave you a “Notice of Baggage Inspection” slip inside, though many TSA-approved locks will actually change color or otherwise alert you if the TSA has opened your luggage while in transit.
Shopping for a TSA-approved luggage lock to keep your valuables safe? Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true options that range from basic and budget-friendly to super high-end and teched out. Whether you’re looking to use one for your favorite checked luggage or a carry-on bag, these are our favorites.
Sometimes it’s best to go with an old-fashioned lock and key, especially if you don’t trust yourself to remember a combination at the end of a long-haul flight. This basic padlock design from Master Lock is constructed from a solid metal design and features a cut-resistant steel shackle for added peace of mind. This set comes with four different locks and two keys that will work with each lock interchangeably. As Amazon's No. 1 choice for luggage locks with more than 2,000 positive reviews, this classic is a solid choice.
$19.97 $17.97 at Amazon
Worried about the TSA going through your stuff without your knowledge? These cable locks feature a color-changing indicator that shows you if the TSA has been inside your suitcase at any time during transit. While they each feature a three-dial combination lock, they're manufactured from high-strength zinc alloy for improved security and peace of mind.
$59.95 $44.95 at Amazon
This Bluetooth-enabled travel lock is touted as “the world’s most versatile lock” — and for good reason. The compact smart lock doesn’t just keep track of exactly where your luggage is
while in transit but can also be locked and unlocked via your smartphone. The strong die-cast zinc lock features a long braided cable that can be stretched between two zippers or connected to multiple pockets for added security and convenience.
Featuring a unique and striking style, this bright orange compact lock utilizes a traditional key in a decidedly nontraditional way. “The TravelMore Ultra Secure Mini Key Padlock separates into a body and a cable-like straight bar, which slots through the zippers before reattaching to the body and securing with a key for added security and convenience,” explains Crossland. The lock can work through zippers, duffel bags, purse latches, computer bags, backpacks
, briefcases and more. And, if the orange is too bright for your taste, the lock set is also available in black.
This three-dial combination cable lock fastens your zippers together with the option to secure it to your suitcase handle for maximum security. The industrial braided steel cable is ultra thick and will prevent thieves from cutting through the lock. At the same time, the TSA-approved design means you won’t have to worry about your bag or lock being ripped open if your gear gets selected for additional security screening while in transit.
This innovative option removes the need to remember a three- or four-digit code or carry a dainty key with you, as the locks are opened with a key card. The Talonport Keyless Locks have a highly secure solid metal shackle and come with several cards in case you lose one or two (hey, it happens!). We also love that there are a total of four locks in a pack so you can share with family members or secure multiple pieces of luggage. Plus, if you lose all four of the cards that come with the set, Talonport will send you a free replacement.
Jenny Ly, founder and professional blogger at Go Wanderly, suggests looking for an ultrathin design like the Forge Cable Lock, as typical luggage zippers with heavy metal loops can be difficult to lock at times. “The TSA-approved Forge bag lock features a braided cable that is both thin and strong, which makes it easy to lock on the go,” Ly explains. “Because the lock is made of zinc and steel, you won't have to worry about it being damaged if it is mishandled at the airport.” These locks can be opened with the included key — every lock will work with every key included, so there's no need to walk around with multiple keys. We also love that these locks from Forge come in a variety of packages; you can opt for a longer cable up to 25 inches or stick with the short cable in black but in a four-pack.
Crossland also recommends this option for a no-frills alternative. The two-pack set includes traditional padlocks that open with a key. It’s hard to beat this affordable, well-reviewed set. We love that it's somewhat universal, as the set of two keys works with both locks, so you'll have a backup in case of loss. The locks are manufactured from zinc alloy for high strength and maximum security. Plus, you can choose from a number of color options that best match your luggage, from red to black, orange, silver and more.
Secure your backpacks
with these TSA-approved high-quality luggage locks. Ly notes that they're made of alloy and stainless steel, which makes them difficult to access for thieves. “For further security, the lock incorporates a four-digit coding scheme, and you may program up to 10,000 lock combinations. The steel metal loop is resistant to break and fits into most regular zippers,” Ly explains. Plus, we love that there's a pop-up inspection indicator that will let you know if TSA has inspected your bag.
This four-pack of TSA-approved luggage locks looks like a pretty basic locking system at first glance, but the high-tech locks actually alert you when the lock has been tampered with — either by the TSA or otherwise. The subtle open indicator will remain popped out of the locking system from the moment the lock was opened and will stay flagged until you’re able to unlock the mechanism with your unique combination. Each of the locks in this four-pack is also made from a zinc alloy body and a hardened shackle to keep your belongings secure.
The Xool TSA-Approved Luggage Lock is another great budget-friendly option that allows you to set your unique combination and send your luggage on its way without stressing about thieves or potential damage to your suitcase. The easy-to-read four-digit combination lock also features a built-in slot for a TSA master key as well as a small alert indicator that will pop up if the TSA does in fact inspect your luggage.
The Nanuk TSA-Approved Case Lock was designed to fit on hard cases and storage containers that might not be compatible with traditional padlocks or braided cable locks. The hardened steel shackle and silicone tether make it easy to stretch this lock over hard-to-reach and tight-fitting spots that are common on photography or videography pelican cases. This option also includes an alert indicator that will pop up if your gear has been opened while in transit.
This four-pack of TSA-approved luggage locks from Forge will give you great value for your money. As Amazon's Choice for luggage locks by Forge, you'll get four alloy lock bodies with tightly braided and sheathed steel cables as well as hardened steel cable lock ends. You can set your own three-digit combination, and added security features, such as requiring the TSA agent to relock the device before removing their key, make this set a great option.
Each of these top-rated TSA-approved luggage locks looks and feels secure, thanks to the heavy all-metal construction that is not just virtually indestructible but also very streamlined and sophisticated-looking. The pack of three was designed to match Tumi luggage sets and comes in classic red, silver and jet black colorways to easily blend into (or stand out from) your existing luggage.
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