How to Open a TSA Luggage Lock

vintage luggage image by Paul Hill from

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prohibited airline passengers from locking their luggage. The TSA did not want another tragedy to unfold due to dangerous contraband (such as a bomb or other destructive device) being hidden and locked away in a piece of luggage. The TSA now allows passengers to lock their luggage. However, passengers must use only TSA-approved luggage locks. Specifically, passengers may only use locks made by Safe Skies Luggage or Travel Sentry.

Insert the master key into the bottom of the lock and turn the key clockwise. All TSA agents have a master key that opens TSA-approved locks without having to cut the lock open; you should be given your own key when you purchase your lock.

Turn the number-dials on the face of the lock so that the code sequence displays over the red lines or white dots on the face of the lock. For example, if the code is 3-4-2-4, turn the top dial to “3,” the dial below the top to “4,” the second-to-last dial to “2” then the bottom dial to “4.”

Pull down on the lock to release the bar. Slide the lock off of the luggage.

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