Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
magazinewriter
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:39 am

Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by magazinewriter » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:02 pm

I haven’t traveled internationally in years. But I’m going to England in a few weeks.

Is it best to lock checked luggage or leave it unlocked? A good friend who flies internationally several times a year said leave suitcases unlocked. But I saw a mention of TSA approved locks and found these on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Forge-TSA-Lock-P ... gage+locks

So locked or unlocked?

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 18521
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:15 pm

I never lock my checked-in luggage and don't have anything in it worth taking.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

PugetSoundguy
Posts: 176
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by PugetSoundguy » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:18 pm

We just use disposable cable ties so the zipper on the bag won't accidentally slide open. Easy enough for the Customs/security people to clip if they need to look inside the bag.

bob60014
Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by bob60014 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm

Dont waste your money. No locks, just use zip ties.

The Wizard
Posts: 12155
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by The Wizard » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm

Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
Attempted new signature...

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 18521
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm

PugetSoundguy wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:18 pm
We just use disposable cable ties so the zipper on the bag won't accidentally slide open. Easy enough for the Customs/security people to clip if they need to look inside the bag.
bob60014 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Dont waste your money. No locks, just use zip ties.
But you need to clip them on arrival, and for that you need scissors, and you can't take scissors on the plane.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

PugetSoundguy
Posts: 176
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by PugetSoundguy » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:27 pm

I just use nail clippers. One in my pocket, also one in an unlocked pouch on the outside of the bag in case an overzealous TSA person takes the clippers from me. Has worked for years.

ralph124cf
Posts: 1985
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:41 am

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by ralph124cf » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:31 pm

Small round nosed scissors are OK, think kindergarten paper scissors.

Ralph

User avatar
David Jay
Posts: 5443
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:54 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by David Jay » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:34 pm

There are some third-world countries where I might want to lock luggage to “keep the honest people out” (classic reference).

But not to Northern Europe or major Asian countries.
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future - Niels Bohr | To get the "risk premium", you really do have to take the risk - nisiprius

adamthesmythe
Posts: 2211
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:18 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:15 pm
I never lock my checked-in luggage and don't have anything in it worth taking.

Victoria
Yup. That's the way to go.

Starfish
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by Starfish » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:33 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
PugetSoundguy wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:18 pm
We just use disposable cable ties so the zipper on the bag won't accidentally slide open. Easy enough for the Customs/security people to clip if they need to look inside the bag.
bob60014 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Dont waste your money. No locks, just use zip ties.
But you need to clip them on arrival, and for that you need scissors, and you can't take scissors on the plane.

Victoria
A lighter or nail clippers do the job.
Anyway I never lock my luggage. And I have nothing valuable in it.

Cartographer
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:46 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by Cartographer » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:49 pm

Almost never check, but the one international trip I did, I didn't bother locking. If someone wants my t-shirts, so be it

It's been shown that these locks are pretty easy to get around. Of course, if a would-be thief had a choice of two bags, one with a lock and one without, they may go for the unlocked one to save them a second.

OTOH, having a lock on your bag might actually signal that you have something valuable inside (whether or not you do), and could actually make your bag more of a target.

HIinvestor
Posts: 1614
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:23 am

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by HIinvestor » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:55 pm

We use nothing, paper clips or wire twist ties, whichever we think of at any given time. We have not had any problems nor noticed anything stolen. It’s mainly to keep zippers from being left open. I’ve noticed sometimes TSA thoughtfully opens zippers and leaves them open—HAVEN’T figured out a way to get them to re-zip what they open. :-(

magazinewriter
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:39 am

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by magazinewriter » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:03 pm

OK good. $20 saved. Thanks all.

delamer
Posts: 5807
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by delamer » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:06 pm

The Wizard wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
We do.

What’s the downside? We each keep a key.

bob60014
Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by bob60014 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:07 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
PugetSoundguy wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:18 pm
We just use disposable cable ties so the zipper on the bag won't accidentally slide open. Easy enough for the Customs/security people to clip if they need to look inside the bag.
bob60014 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Dont waste your money. No locks, just use zip ties.
But you need to clip them on arrival, and for that you need scissors, and you can't take scissors on the plane.

Victoria

You leave a little wiggle room, place a pen (ubiquitous in any hotel room) thru the middle and twist a few times. Breaks right off. Easy peasy.
Last edited by bob60014 on Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bob60014
Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by bob60014 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:09 pm

delamer wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:06 pm
The Wizard wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
We do.

What’s the downside? We each keep a key.
You have a key, the TSA or other security doesnt. They use bolt cutters when they check the contents!

ResearchMed
Posts: 7072
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:13 pm

bob60014 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:09 pm
delamer wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:06 pm
The Wizard wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
We do.

What’s the downside? We each keep a key.
You have a key, the TSA or other security doesnt. They use bolt cutters when they check the contents!
Isn't that only when you don't use TSA-compliant locks? If you do, then TSA can open them.

We tend not to lock during flights for fear it would appear there are valuables inside.
Anything valuable or critical (like meds), we always carry with us (at all times), but we'd rather not have the contents rifled through only because someone else thought there were serious goodies inside.

Depending upon where we stay, we might lock some things, but not with TSA locks.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

User avatar
jhfenton
Posts: 3251
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:17 am
Location: Ohio

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by jhfenton » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:19 pm

magazinewriter wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:02 pm
I haven’t traveled internationally in years. But I’m going to England in a few weeks.

Is it best to lock checked luggage or leave it unlocked? A good friend who flies internationally several times a year said leave suitcases unlocked. But I saw a mention of TSA approved locks and found these on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Forge-TSA-Lock-P ... gage+locks

So locked or unlocked?
My son and I used those exact locks on our June trip to Spain (Cincinnati -> JFK -> Madrid outbound, Casablanca -> Paris -> Detroit -> Cincinnati inbound). (When I followed your link, I see "You purchased this item on June 16, 2018.") We did not have any issues, and we returned with all locks intact.

I am used to locking my bags, because when I fly domestically, I am usually checking a firearm. That requires a hard-sided, locked bag.

delamer
Posts: 5807
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by delamer » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:55 pm

bob60014 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:09 pm
delamer wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:06 pm
The Wizard wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
We do.

What’s the downside? We each keep a key.
You have a key, the TSA or other security doesnt. They use bolt cutters when they check the contents!
Ours are TSA approved, which means they have a some kind of master key.

And if they use bolt cutters on the locks — which has never happened on numerous domestic and international trips — then we lose the locks.

Niemanterry
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:11 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by Niemanterry » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:36 am

I second the use of zip ties. Used to travel to sketchy places with several $ worth of scuba gear. Going to a dive location with expensive gear is like having money dribble out of your pockets, easily pawned gear-6-12 months of income.
Also tells you if anyone has been monkeying around with your stuff.

jebmke
Posts: 8278
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by jebmke » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:42 am

Outside the US, the chances that the airport folks have keys to a TSA lock are low. They will just clip them off with bolt cutters.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

User avatar
JoMoney
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:31 am

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by JoMoney » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:30 pm

If all I was checking was clothes, I wouldn't bother. I would have important things in my carry on. I like the zip-ties and carry a nail clipper idea though.
Niemanterry wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:36 am
...Also tells you if anyone has been monkeying around with your stuff.
:thumbsup
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2028
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:40 pm

If my son ever returned from a trip and didn't find a TSA note in his suitcase he'd feel a little lonely. They really like to search his stuff.

I'd use zip ties or nothing, because losing the key is the most likely result of me using a TSA friendly lock.

hmw
Posts: 521
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:44 am

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by hmw » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:14 pm

We always used TSA approved combo locks.

Starfish
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by Starfish » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:19 pm

delamer wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:06 pm
The Wizard wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
We do.

What’s the downside? We each keep a key.
Most already mentioned:
1. Lose the key (strange things happen after 30h on the road)
2. Signal value to the thief
3. TSA

Starfish
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by Starfish » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:21 pm

hmw wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:14 pm
We always used TSA approved combo locks.
I assume the value of that lock is ~ 0. At least for a thief at the airport.
It could help on the way to/from.

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3425
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:35 pm

Starfish wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:19 pm
delamer wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:06 pm
The Wizard wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:20 pm
Nobody locks checked luggage on any flight.
Worry about something important...
We do.

What’s the downside? We each keep a key.
Most already mentioned:
1. Lose the key (strange things happen after 30h on the road)
2. Signal value to the thief
3. TSA
All seven TSA master keys are part of the public domain and can readily be printed off on any 3D printer. I'm guessing every less than honest baggage handler already has their own set made by now.

https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/27/secur ... ster-keys/

User avatar
serbeer
Posts: 1132
Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 2:09 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by serbeer » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:57 pm

I think this video will give you definitive answer to your question:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JvmAktLvFg

timmy
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:57 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by timmy » Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:37 pm

PugetSoundguy wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:18 pm
We just use disposable cable ties so the zipper on the bag won't accidentally slide open. Easy enough for the Customs/security people to clip if they need to look inside the bag.
+1

z91
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:19 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by z91 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:07 am

serbeer wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:57 pm
I think this video will give you definitive answer to your question:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JvmAktLvFg
Was just going to post this.

In addition, TSA uses a set of specific keys (which open TSA approved locks) that can be obtained by malicious folks rather easily.

The last few times I flew they opened my luggage and left a note saying they inspected it anyway.

It's really pointless to lock it up and probably targets your luggage more than anything.

28fe6
Posts: 150
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:01 am

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by 28fe6 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:17 pm

If you travel with firearms you have to lock it, and it has to be a NON-TSA lock. However, I don't like this, since it makes my luggage look valuable and stand out. So, you can put the locked case in another unlocked case and that's perfectly fine so I do that.

2015
Posts: 1830
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:32 pm

Re: Lock Suitcases on International Flight or Not?

Post by 2015 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:39 pm

What's a suitcase? I take a backpack as a carry on no matter where I go. No need to lock as all valuables are always on my person at all times in my cargo shorts. I did this to travel all over Europe for almost two weeks and wouldn't consider doing anything else. Simple to pack, unpack, repack.

Post Reply