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Padlocking/shrinkwrapping luggage for flights to USA

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by danielh, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
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    I was talking to my wife about getting a new 4 pack of lockwood padlocks for my suitcase and she said that we were not allowed to lock out bags unless it was some sort of special padlock that the Airport people had keys for (I usually assume they have keys to everything or will resort to Mr Industrial Pliers).

    Now normally I know this sort of thing like the back of my hand but what she said stirred a memory of some article I read about a year ago.

    Can someone please confirm what the current law are about luggage going to the USA and whether or not we can padlock them with standard locks and/or shrink wrap them?
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    Regards
    Daniel
     
  2. cssaus

    cssaus Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
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    Sydney
    I recently purchased a bunch of Samsonite TSA-approved combination padlocks.

    The advantage with these is that the TSA have a special access key to open them should they decide to inspect your baggage. What's neat about them is that they have a coloured bar that turns red if they have been opened by the TSA.
     


  3. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

    Dec 6, 2004
    1,872
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    danielh - there is some useful information in this thread, including some comments about luggage handling in the LOTFAP.
     
  4. aus_flyer

    aus_flyer Established Member

    Feb 15, 2005
    1,361
    25
    Brisbane
    I am in the US at the moment and this is being quite strictly enforced. They won't even allow you to check you bags in with locks, unless they are the TSA ones.
     
  5. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    352
    0
    Thanks, this is annoying but I'll have to splurge out and get TSA ones at the Airport tomorrow.

    I'm on 4 more flights WITHIN the US so I'm going to need it a lot.

    Regards
    Daniel
     


  6. cssaus

    cssaus Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    891
    62
    Sydney
    I got mine from DJ's luggage but you'll find them in most reputable luggage shops.

    My suggestion would be to get them today so you can figure out how to work them before you get to the airport.
     
  7. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,689
    216
    Canberra / London
    At the risk of being considered naiive, why buy locks that Blind Freddy can unlock?

    Wouldn't you be better of with no locks, or a bit of string or something?

    :)
     
  8. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    From the QF website Checked Baggage page:

    Locking Checked Baggage
    We recommend that passengers lock their checked baggage. However, it may be necessary to open and inspect your baggage as part of the security screening process. If your baggage is locked, and you are not present when it is necessary to open it for Government mandated additional security checks, the lock may be broken by security screeners.

    We are unable to advise at the time of check-in whether a passenger's baggage will need to undergo additional security checks. Qantas is not liable for damaged locks that must be opened for security purposes.

    Travelling to or from the United States

    For passengers travelling to or from the United States, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) advises that passengers can avoid the need for locks to be broken by using a TSA recognised locking mechanism, which can be opened by the TSA. For further information, visit the TSA website.

    Baggage wrapping

    Passengers who choose to utilise baggage-wrapping services offered at some airports should allow additional time to complete this process before check-in. Should wrapped baggage need to undergo Government mandated additional security checks the wrapping will be removed and not replaced.

    Interestingly, the TSA accepted & recognised locks are located here

    Travel Sentry's Australian stockists can be located here

    Safe Skies don't have Australian stockists from the looks of their website
     
  9. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    There is no simple answer...

    Here are your generic options with their pro's and cons. Others will most certainly comment on my opinions :D

    1) Basic Luggage lock
    Pro: Comes with your suitcase.
    Con: Normally easy to pick/break. Can't fly to US with them.

    2) Quality padlock.
    Pro: Secure for most flights. Hard but not impossible to pick. Some strengthening of lock so harder to snap.
    Con: Can't fly to the US with them.

    3) Cable Tie.
    Pro: Easy to apply. Easy to remove (if you remember to pack pliers!)
    Con: Cable ties all look alike. You wouldn't know if someone swapped one on you. Easy for someone to remove.

    4) TSA locks.
    Pro: Relatively secure. Only TSA should have the keys to unlock them (cough!). If unlocked via TSA key then lock will show a "red flag".
    Con: They look similar to each other.

    5) No locks.
    Pro: Easy for you.
    Con: Hmmm. I'm not going to go there!

    6) Secure Luggage cable ties.
    Pro: Easy to apply. Unique numbers show tampering.
    Con: Easy for someone to remove. (You would notice though).

    7) Luggage wrap.
    Pro: Easy. Easily tell if tampered with.
    Cons: Cost $, Easy to remove.

    8 ) Baggage mesh.
    Pro: Good security. Similar to padlocks but covers all pockets without multiple locks.
    Cons: Won't work for US trips unless using TSA locks etc.

    I think it all comes down to a level of security you want to have. If you travel to certain countries and someone manages to slip something in your bag... basically you're stuffed regardless if you locked your bag or did anything else to it to help secure it. Try proving just how well you secured your bag, even though when it arrived it had no locking mechanism...

    If you travel to the US, you need to either unlock your bags, use a TSA lock or cable ties. If something can't be easily snapped then boltcutters/pliers are a quick method to remove it.

    As for me. I prefer trusty padlocks that I have the keys to. Sure they can be picked, but hopefully my baggage isn't sitting there long enough for someone to want to....

    I'll soon be moving towards TSA locks for my bags. Still looking for somewhere that sells a "keyed" version (don't like 3 number Combo locks for baggage - but 4 is a lot better) and/or I can get a 3 pack for ~$20-$30.

    I am also slightly leaning towards using the numbered cable ties.
     
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    how about remote (keyless) entry?

    lock the sucker after it's checked in.. haha!
     
  11. robertz

    robertz Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    134
    2
    Atlanta, GA, US
    You can still lock your bags here in the US without TSA locks.
    (Direct flights, not sure about connecting flights)

    What you do is check in and take you bags over to the screeners. After they have screened, you can lock them. (Cannot be done with curbside)

    Ive done this a couple of times. They dont tell people or advertise it as everybody would be hanging around waiting for their bags to clear.

    Its really a pain in the ass, but an option (If they havent changed this rule as well, in the last 2 months)


    Rob
     
  12. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    The TSA locks are sometimes broken as not all screeners bother to use the key. There are also reports (I havent experienced this bit first hand but personally know folk who have) of zippers being broken when they try to remove the locks.

    As for the lock after screening (for direct flights) - that is not an option at many airports where you are not allowed to touch your bags once the TSA screens. That said, I have seen places where you can do just that and without a screener present which goes to show what a joke the whole process is.
     
  13. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    I believe this doesn't guarantee anything from the TSA. They can still require an inspection later (for whatever reason) so out comes the pliers...
     
  14. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    Whilst travelling from JNB to Namibia, my case underwent damage upon removal of locks. Didn't affect the zipping mechanism, but the point of weakness was the loops on the zipper which are used to lock the case, so they broke those which means I can no longer lock the case.

    These days I'm taking my chances with unlocked bags (valuables in carry on) and put the unlocked bag thing in perspective - whilst there is always a chance someone will put something there, there is also a chance (especially in some countries) I will walk outside the airport and be hit by a motor vehicle, which could have just as big an impact on my life. From suggestions on the grapevine, I'm just not convinced that there weren't other connections in the Corby case - the sort of connections I don't have.
     
  15. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    These days passing through US I try to have only carry-on. Not always successful of course, but amazing how much less stuff I take now compared to when first started travelling.
     
  16. cssaus

    cssaus Active Member

    Dec 13, 2004
    891
    62
    Sydney
    I too try and do the same thing.

    It's not too hard to do if travelling in the summer months but it's a challenge when travelling during their winter months.

    I finally managed to do it earlier this year for a 10 day trip. I usually spend a couple of day with a cousin of mine in NY and she looked at me as if I was crazy when I turned up on her snow-covered doorstep with just hand luggage wondering where all my warm clothing was :shock:
     
  17. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    I managed it on my last long trip (3 weeks) but next one will be much colder and so not sure I can do it carry-on only. Will try.
     
  18. robertz

    robertz Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    134
    2
    Atlanta, GA, US
    Hmm, from JNB to Namibia, you were lucky to even get a bag at the other end.

    I've had things mysteriously disappear while traveling through JNB. 8)

    Rob
     
  19. cpl

    cpl Intern

    Nov 30, 2004
    72
    0
    Australia
    I just travelled to and within the US and would disagree. The only risk you face is that your locks might be broken by TSA.
     
  20. cpl

    cpl Intern

    Nov 30, 2004
    72
    0
    Australia
    And the obvious disadvantage is that the bad guys also need only one key to open whatever bag they want... we call this a single point of failure 8)
     

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