I recently traveled from USA to India with a layover in London (British Airways). I had locked each one of my check-in luggage with a TSA lock. One of my luggage bags seems to have been opened for inspection. I suspect this because I checked the keyhole of the lock and it looked different from the other locks. Also, this lock is always unlocked irrespective of whether I entered the correct combination or not. How do I fix such a lock?

  • How do you fix a lock on your luggage? – Karlson Sep 7 '15 at 2:08
  • @Karlson Just like any regular TSA lock ref: tamperseal.com/images/productImages/199/large/wllg1.jpg – gokul_uf Sep 7 '15 at 2:12
  • That makes it as clear as mud. Are you trying to fix a lock built in to your luggage? Or the one you used to lock it? Or what exactly are you asking? If the luggage was opened for inspection it can be open again – Karlson Sep 7 '15 at 2:23
  • @Karlson I am trying to fix a lock that I used to lock my luggage with. – gokul_uf Sep 7 '15 at 2:28
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    This is a question about DIY, and has nothing to do with Travel, TSA or what airports you have visited while it happened. – iHaveacomputer Sep 7 '15 at 3:40

It is likely the TSA or other customs/inspections agent broke the lock when opening your luggage. Even though the whole point of the "TSA-Lock" is that they have master keys, they sometimes are too lazy and just clip (cut) the lock or they use the wrong master key and force the lock, breaking it. It doesn't help that many TSA locks are very poorly constructed. Fortunately, that also means they are inexpensive.

While a locksmith may be able to repair it, it is almost always cheaper to just get a new lock.

Or do what most experienced travellers do and simply use a ziptie. You can buy 100 of them for 1 euro/dollar. Simple to use and just as much of a deterrent as the TSA lock.

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    If you use zip ties, be sure you have a way to cut them off at your destination ;-) – user13044 Sep 7 '15 at 5:14
  • @Tom: You can simply have a pair of scissors (in an unlocked pocket of) your checked baggage. Scissors are a no-no in cabin baggage, but small pairs are okay in checked baggage (at least, I have not ever had any trouble with them; granted, I have not been to US or Israel or anyplace similar, so to speak). As a bonus, you have something to cut off the routing label. – tomasz Sep 7 '15 at 6:46
  • @tomasz Other option: you can break through most thinner cable ties with a standard house key. Just side it under and give it a sharp tug against the teeth of the key (sliding the teeth across). – Bob Sep 7 '15 at 7:25
  • @Bob: Yeah, keys are among the best emergency cutting tools that I know (as well as improvised weapons, or so I hear). Scissors are way better, though. – tomasz Sep 7 '15 at 10:32
  • Nail clippers are allowed in carryon luggage. And you can be That Guy who cuts his nails on the plane. :) – RoboKaren Sep 7 '15 at 13:49

You said "seems to have been opened", was there a piece of paper from TSA in your suitcase stating that it had been opened for inspection? If there is no paper, then your suitcase was likely tampered with by someone else and they could have been at any of the three airports you traveled through.

Padlocks for the most part are not worth repairing, it is easier and more economical to simply buy a new lock. Or not even bother locking at all.

There is one school of thought on locks, that putting a lock on a suitcase signals to the would be thief that there is greater potential for valuable items in that suitcase. And an unlocked suitcase has nothing of value.

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    There's also the school of thought that putting a lock on your suitcase reduces the risk of it being coopted by smugglers. – Peter Taylor Sep 7 '15 at 6:07
  • @PeterTaylor - So which paranoia shall we put highest in the decision making process? Happily I can say with a couple of million miles flying in recent years,I have never had anything stolen out of my unlocked bags nor to the best of my knowledge been used by smugglers. – user13044 Sep 7 '15 at 6:58
  • Me neither: I've had other baggage issues, but not those. I think an assessment of the relative risks has to take into account the route. – Peter Taylor Sep 7 '15 at 7:10

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