How to Re-Program a TSA Combination Lock

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TSA-approved combination locks can be reset in a few steps.
TSA-approved combination locks can be reset in a few steps. (Image: Combination lock set to 2008 image by palmer530 from Fotolia.com)

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that screening agents be able to open any luggage lock. While most bags are screened electronically, agents occasionally search bags by hand. Agents have special tools that can open TSA-approved luggage locks, which are combination locks. Several lock companies manufacture TSA-approved combination locks, but there is a common method to open most models. You must know the current combination to reprogram the TSA lock. Locks usually arrive with the combination preset to all zeros. Use that combination for new locks, or your current combination for locks you've already programmed.

Set your lock to the current combination and pull straight up on the shackle, the curved piece of steel that threads through luggage zipper holes, to open it.

Turn the shackle 90 degrees in either direction. The clasp of the shackle should hang over the side of the combination lock.

Press the shackle down firmly as far as it will go. Hold it in place. Some locks require another 90-degree twist at this point, so the shackle is 180 degrees away from the lock entry hole. Do this if you are unsure which method your lock requires.

Pick a new combination and enter it onto the lock, lining up the numbers with the hash mark.

Release the shackle and pull it straight up. Turn it back so the clasp lines up with the lock opening.

Turn the numbers so the lock is not on your new combination. Push the shackle down into the locked position. The lock is now reprogrammed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Write down your lock combination in a secure location, especially if you frequently reprogram your combination lock.
  • Combinations cannot be changed without the current code.

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