Christmas holidays has just gone, but some, perhaps, are planning a trip to the USA, or they will simply stop at one of its many airports and then go elsewhere. Amongst the preparations and the information collected for the trip it is important to make sure that what is packed in the suitcase at home arrives intact in the hotel room. It is therefore worth knowing that when travelling to the United States it is advisable to lock your suitcases with TSA padlocks. Yes, it’s true, even today we are talking about security, but in a sense it is also about convenience.
Why the TSA padlock?
This type of combination lock arises from the need to inspect and check the luggage of travellers traveling through US airports in response to the tragic events of 11 September 2001.
The inspection, although it may seem an “encroachment” into personal privacy, aims to ensure the safety of passengers flying to the US and the citizens who live there.
For this reason, the US government agency Transport Security Administration was established in 2001, which gives the acronym TSA.
How do the inspections work?
Inspection officers have the right to randomly check the contents of passengers’ suitcases, without having to notify in advance and without requiring any authorisation.
If the suitcases are not locked, the risk is that, after landing, one arrives at the baggage reclaim area to find the suitcase open, possibly even with some of its items missing; if, on the other hand, the suitcases are locked by a normal travel padlock, if these must be inspected, the padlock will be cut by the persons in charge of the inspection. To avoid this kind of inconvenience, the TSA padlock has been designed; it is equipped with a lock which can be opened and closed only by the inspection staff, by using a key approved for this purpose, which is in their possession.
How do you recognise a TSA lock?
Not all combination locks are TSA. The latter are, in fact, recognised by the US agency logo shown on the product. This logo is shown below.
What are the advantages of the TSA padlock?
This type of padlock prevents the suitcase lock from being damaged, so that if your baggage is chosen as the sample to be inspected, the agent can use the approved key in his possession to open the lock, then perform the inspection, place a document inside the suitcase certifying the inspection carried out (such as that shown below) and reclose the suitcase.
For trips to the United States? Yes But not only!
This measure, or a similar one, has not (yet) been adopted in other countries and this could make you think that this type of padlock is only useful for people traveling in the USA. In reality, combination locks, whether they are TSA or not, are also practical, as they allow the traveller to conveniently lock his/her suitcase and forget about the worries of “where do I put the keys”, which is a typical concern with other types of lock. It can therefore be useful, especially when traveling when you have many other things to think about. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that, generally, to obtain an insurance refund following theft of items from the luggage, it is necessary for it to have been locked and forced; therefore, if the suitcase does not provide a standard locking system, it is necessary to use a padlock (or, alternatively, the less practical cellophane covering of the suitcase).
How is it used?
The use of TSA padlocks is simple. For more information on Viro branded products, refer to the instructions on the back of the package, shown in the photo below.
For further technical details on Viro TSA combination locks, please visit the dedicated Viro website page.