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What is a TSA lock and how do I set it?

The flight to the USA went without any problems and a well-deserved vacation is already waiting behind the airport doors. But then the shock! The padlock is gone and the rest of the suitcase looks pretty battered too.

What happened?

The American officials wanted to check the locked suitcase and so the suitcase was broken into without further ado. Annoying, but absolutely legitimate from the staff's point of view. To avoid this story, we therefore recommend a TSA lock.

TSA lock - what does that actually mean?

Table of Contents

Since 2002 all suitcases in the USA have been used by the North American flight security TSA (Transport S.ecurity A.administration). It does not matter whether the owner wants to travel directly to the USA or simply makes a stopover until the onward flight.

If the officers notice something or if your suitcase is selected as a random sample, it will be opened and searched. In contrast to other countries, e.g. in Germany or Canada, you will not be informed about the examination beforehand, only an information sheet will be enclosed afterwards. If the TSA officers cannot get your belongings because you have locked your luggage, they are authorized to break open the suitcase. You will not receive any compensation for the lock and / or any other damage.

However, this is only the case if you do not have a TSA lock on your luggage. The TSA has a master key for these "special" locks, with which they can search your suitcase without having to have the numerical code or the "correct" key.

This master key is by the way officially not commercially available but only used by a select few TSA officials. So you don't have to worry that anyone can just buy the master key in the shop.
The security officers in other countries do not have a TSA key either, which is why the luggage is usually searched in the presence of the owner.

How do I know whether a lock is TSA-compatible?

The TSA-compatible padlocks are either already integrated in the case or are purchased and attached separately. The locks are locked either with a numerical code or with a key. There are also TSA-approved luggage straps.

TSA locks are produced by two different manufacturers, with Travel Sentry being the world-famous one. TSA locks can be recognized by the logo of the Travel Sentry company (a red diamond shape on a white background) or the Safe Skies company (a red and white torch). At Travel Sentry, TSA (also) stands for Travel Sentry Approved, so the name - intentionally or not - stands for both the competent authority and the manufacturer.

A number is always indicated on the locks (TSA001, TSA002, TSA003, TSA004, TSA005, TSA006 and TSA007). These serve as an indication for the authorities which TSA master key to use.

This is how you (generally) set the numeric code

Have you got yourself a TSA-compatible combination lock and now want to set it? Here is a little general guide for you:

  1. The starting combination should be set to 0-0-0. (This is the factory setting. If you have already changed the code, you have to set it)
  2. Now press the setting button with a pointed object, e.g. a pen, until it clicks audibly.
  3. Now turn the cog to enter your personal code. If necessary, write it down on a piece of paper so that you don't forget it.
  4. Now move the opening slide until the setting button jumps back to the starting position.
  5. Your number combination is now set. If you haven't already done so, you can now hook the zipper in the lock to close your suitcase.

Please note that this is a general setting and that the procedure may vary depending on the type of lock and the manufacturer.

From our own experience, we would like to advise you to enter a code immediately after receipt, as we are aware of isolated cases in which locks have adjusted themselves due to strong jerking, e.g. by driving the suitcase on cobblestones.

Infographic with instructions

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We would be happy to receive a link or name.

Instructions for a TSA combination lock on a travelite CrossLITE

1. Make sure the combination at first time Adjusting the lock shows 0 three times. This is the factory setting.
If you have already set a number code in the past, then you have to select it.

2. On the CrossLITE, press the setting button with a pointed object, for example a ballpoint pen, until you hear a clear click.
ATTENTION: Not all new TSA locks at travelite have an adjustment button. In this case you simply have to move the slide button (the direction is indicated on the button with an arrow) and then hold this position.

3. Enter your number combination now.

4. Now move the slide button so that the adjustment button jumps back again. If you have a lock without an adjusting knob instead, let the sliding knob slide back into its original position.

5. That's it. You have set your travelite TSA lock. If you want to set a new combination, just repeat steps 2-4.

Instructions for use for an integrated TSA combination lock on a TITAN X2

1. Before you start, make sure the number combination is 0-0-0.
This is the factory setting for a new case. If you or someone else have already set the code, you have to set this number combination.

2. There is a small adjustment button on the side of the TSA lock. Press it in, e.g. with a small pen, until you hear a "click" sound.

3. Now set your desired number combination. Important: If necessary, make a note of it beforehand or immediately afterwards! We can assure you: One of the most common reasons for customer problems in our shop is a forgotten combination.

4. Once the desired code has been set, you press the opening slide until the setting button jumps back. (Attention: In the example image the zipper zippers are still in the lock, but it usually doesn't matter whether they are loose or attached)

5. You made it. The Titan case can now only be opened with the correct combination.

Set the lock on a frame case like the TITAN Prior

1. Set the number combination to 0-0-0 the first time. Now open the clasp on the side. There is a small slider on the back.

2. Push the slider to the left or down and keep it pressed.

3. Enter your personal code using the number wheels.

4. Let go of the slider to return it to its original position.

What can you do if you've forgotten your number combination

  1. Try all number combinations from 0-0-0 to 9-9-9. There are 1,000 possible combinations here. But since you are skeptical and think that this would take hours, then we can calm you down. We have already done this a few times ourselves and it took between 20-60 minutes
  2. Try the twisted code (example: code is 0-0-0; the twisted code would be 5-5-5)
  3. Contact the seller from whom you obtained the TSA lock
  4. Communicate directly with the baggage manufacturer. (Always try to settle this through the seller first)
  5. For padlocks: Turn the number wheels until you hear a clear click (click into place)
  6. See if you can see a notch on the wheels. At this point (or on the right or left of it) is the right combination
  7. Pierce the zipper with a ballpoint pen and open the case. ATTENTION: This may prevent the case from being closed
  8. Try to pick the lock with a lock pick or jiggler

Summary

We recommend that you think about purchasing a TSA lock when traveling in and through the USA, if your suitcase does not already have one. With the master key for flight security, there will be no damage or delays due to a possible investigation.
In the meantime, it is even more standard for the various case manufacturers to attach a TSA lock to their products than a normal lock.

As an alternative, you are of course also free to simply not lock the suitcase at all, which we would advise against.


Find suitcases with a TSA lock

Category: Suitcases & Co, Travel Tips Tags: entry regulations, airport regulations, suitcases, TSA, TSA lock