I'm about to travel through Australia, and I'd like to use my American TSA-openable locks on my luggage. I'm not sure if I should, though, or if I'm just inviting Australian authorities to damage my luggage in order to inspect it. (I'm travelling from Papua New Guinea back to the USA via Australia.)

On my journey here, I put these locks on my suitcases, and when I transited through the Philippines, I discovered later that the Philippine airport staff had intentionally cut through part of the zippers on a suitcase in order to get around the lock and inspect the contents. Thankfully, I can still lock it via a part of the zippers that weren't designed to be used that way, but if my suitcase has to be opened by force again, it will become impossible to even twist-tie shut, and thus effectively unusable. I'd like to avoid this happening, especially since my trans-Pacific flight would happen after such an incident.

I suppose there's an additional consideration if the PNG airport security people decide to inspect the bag before it goes anywhere.

Should I, then, lock the suitcase? Or should I just twist-tie it shut, and hope no one in PNG (or elsewhere) decides to pilfer things from it?

  • 5
    My solution is to avoid putting valuable things in checked luggage, and don't lock it. Keys for those TSA locks are widely available to anybody who wants one. Jan 9, 2019 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


Neither Australia nor PNG authorities technically have key access to TSA locks. However both can and will physically search luggage if they have cause to do so, usually because of an anomaly sighted on other scanning.

If you have locked your luggage that physical searching could be done by removal of the lock, either via keys or more destructive means, or alternate access, e.g. cutting open the bag. It's not unusual for locks to be removed and not replaced on Australian flights.

Cable ties or destructive clips are other options if you want to reduce the likelihood of your bag being damaged while also "proving" that your bag has been tampered with.

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