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How Does a TSA Approved Lock Work?

Lock manufacturers have made it simple to identify a Transportation Security Administration approved lock, by using one of two distinct symbols. This allows TSA to gain access into the bag without the passenger being present.

TSA Approved Lock Symbols

The symbols on the lock will either be a red boxed shape diamond, or a red torch and flame. The locks must have one of these symbols to be TSA-approved. TSA-approved locks can be purchased at most places where locks are sold. This includes Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe's.

TSA Codes

Somewhere on the lock will be a TSA code. For example, one code reads "TSA 001." This code will let Transportation Security Officers know the lock is TSA-approved and most likely will be on the bottom of the lock.

TSA Master Keys

The code on the lock will correspond to a master key. The TSA maintains secure control of the master keys and only use them if a bag inspection is needed.

The Security Process

In the event the bag needs to be physically inspected, a TSO will open it by using the appropriate key that corresponds to the code on the lock. An officer can complete his inspection and relock the bag without having the passenger present. If the lock is an unapproved lock, a TSO will cut the lock open to inspect the bag.

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About the Author

Chris Mertz began writing professionally in 2008. He has written for Total Health & Fitness and a motivational blog, Find and Achieve Success. Mertz holds a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Utah.