How to Open a TSA Lock

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Enjoy your airport experience knowing that your luggage is in good hands.
Enjoy your airport experience knowing that your luggage is in good hands. (Image: Girl in airport image by Nikolay Okhitin from Fotolia.com)

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.

Remember your combination.
Remember your combination. (Image: Numbers image by paul hampton from Fotolia.com)

Lift up on the shackle.

Turn the shackle 90 degrees to open it.

Cable Locks

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.

Hold the lock with the combination facing you.

Pinch the metal bottom portions of the cable shackle together until the right side slides down the track.

Pinch the shackle with your thumb and forefinger.
Pinch the shackle with your thumb and forefinger. (Image: Hand and finger image by Jason W from Fotolia.com)

Guide the cable to the hole.

Remove one side of the cable by lifting it from the hole to unlock.

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.

Airports have access to tools that the public does not.
Airports have access to tools that the public does not. (Image: gate sign in an airport terminal image by kolesn from Fotolia.com)

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.

Unsupervised luggage is at risk for theft.
Unsupervised luggage is at risk for theft. (Image: suitcases image by Alexander Ivanov from Fotolia.com)

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