How to Open a TSA Lock


Technology allows luggage to be electronically screened, though there are times when a physical inspection is required. Only those individuals responsible for our security know when physical inspections are necessary. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspects airplane baggage for compliance with strict regulations. Unlocked suitcases can be easily inspected without damage to your bag or belongings. Locks complicate the process by requiring a key or combination. Prevent your locks from being cut by choosing TSA-recognized baggage locks. TSA officials can open these locks without damage or delay.

Things You'll Need

  • Combination
  • Master key

Solid Shackle Lock

  • Input the combination to your TSA-approved lock by aligning all the numbers in the combination with the red line on the front of the lock.

  • Lift up on the shackle.

  • Turn the shackle 90 degrees to open it.

Cable Locks

TSA Agents Opening Locks

  • Inspect the lock for a logo identifying that it is TSA-approved.

  • Look for the identifying mark that indicates the appropriate tool for unlocking the type of lock. US and international airports have access to tools necessary for opening and re-locking locks.

  • Match the appropriate tool for unlocking the specific lock.

  • Unlock the lock with the corresponding tool, alleviating the need to damage the lock by cutting it.

  • Re-lock the lock after inspection to assure that the contents remain secure.

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  • Photo Credit Girl in airport image by Nikolay Okhitin from Numbers image by paul hampton from Hand and finger image by Jason W from gate sign in an airport terminal image by kolesn from suitcases image by Alexander Ivanov from
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