TSA Approved Lock Cut Off By Screeners

Jul 10th, 2008, 04:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,337
TSA Approved Lock Cut Off By Screeners

On a recent flight from MCO to SEA, I checked a bag that had a TSA approved lock on it. When I arrived at my destination, I discovered that it had been cut off and tossed into the bag.

Naturally I am quite steamed that that nobody had checked the logo on it (as a TSA approved lock) and tried to use the master key for such locks. I want to complain personally to the head of the TSA office in Orlando (or MCO) but don't have his/her name and office address. The contact information seems to be semi-confidential. The TSA web site is no help. Can anyone suggest how to find this information? My "plan B" is to ask friends at one of our U.S. Senator's office to research this for me. Does anyone have a better approach?
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,507
Quite honestly calling "Head" of the TSA office or dyour Senator's office about a "cut off" TSA lock is a bit of overkill. These kind of things happen all the time. It is quite possible the screening agent was unable to open your lock with the "pass key" do to some manufacturing malfunction or perhaps didn't realize it was a TSA lock (after all they screen tens of thousands of bags every day).

The point is the TSA screener determined it was necessary to inspect the contents of your bag and your lock was cut. Chalk it up to the "riggors of travel" post 9/11 and purchase a new lock. You've already spent more time and energy posting hear than the cost of a new lock. At worst your inquiry will get "tossed in the round file" and at best you'll get a form letter response with an answer you don't agree with and that will cause you more frustration. You certainly won't get reimbursed for the cost of a new lock.

This is a perfect example of "picking your battles" - this is a classic example of a "no win" situation. You've vented here now let it drop.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
Another TSA flunkie did what they do everyday. Being stupid.

My question is this. Why even put a lock?

I have flown close to million miles in the last 7-8 years and never had a lock.

Don't waste your money. If somebody wants to steal your underwear or your cool Hawaiian shirt, they will, regardless if there is a lock or not.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,580
Having a "TSA lock" does NOT guarantee that TSA won't cut it. TSA is not liable for its replacement. Almost every provider of TSA approved locks gives a warranty to replace it if the lock is broken by TSA agents.

So contact the seller or manufacturer - not the TSA/your senator.
janisj is online now  
Jul 10th, 2008, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,580
Just looked at the Travel Sentry website:

>>06. My Travel Sentry lock was cut open. What do I do?

If this was done by the TSA the cut lock may be left inside your baggage but they should always include a Notification of Baggage Inspection. If this notice is inside your baggage and the lock has been damaged or destroyed contact the company you purchased the lock from Ė most will replace it free of charge.

If you believe this was NOT done by the TSA then you should file a claim with your airline as soon as possible. Some locks are broken off as a result of rough handling in the airport conveyor belt systems. There are time limits for filing claims with the airlines so do not delay.<<
janisj is online now  
Jul 10th, 2008, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
Oooh, I can't imagine not placing a lock on my suitcase...I have really cute socks... ;-)

Orlando_Vic, I can't help but wonder if either the key didn't work in your lock for whatever reason, or, the key wasn't available. Both DH and I have had our luggage searched and re-locked with the only evidence being the sheet of paper TSA leaves behind. I hope nothing was taken or damaged?

Sorry this happened to you--I am curious to ask the TSA folks next time I see them what would prompt them to cut an approved lock.
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
Instead of a lock, I use a 'twistee' to keep the tabs together.

Did you consider that the lock may have been cut off by other than a TSA person?
Jed is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
How would the management know what the employees are doing or not doing if customers won't let them know?

Just one thing, Orlando, are you going to fly in the future, and are you going to put your real name on the letter? It can get forwarded to those same TSA agents who can take you aside for a strip-search, ya know
FainaAgain is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 03:25 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,580
FainaA: There are no guarantees that TSA won't cut/break TSA locks. If a bag needs to be opened and the agent doesn't have the master key handy - the lock will be cut. It is not against TSA procedures to break a TSA lock - BUT the seller will usually replace it if that happens. That is the main marketing/selling point for these locks - that TSA can open them and if they are busted by TSA, the warranty will replace it. That is how they command the extra $$ cost for "special" locks.

(I personally recommend cable ties if someone wants to lock their bag. But if someone already has a TSA lock - keep record of where/when you bought it in case you need to claim a replacement(
janisj is online now  
Jul 13th, 2008, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 2,924
OMG, I thought I was the only person who used twisties on my suitcases!

I haven't yet had a suitcase arrive with the twisties gone (knock wood).
Jaya is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
I wonder if when the screeners see the twistees, they think there is nothing worth stealing in the bag.
Jed is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 2,924
LOL - whatever works!
Jaya is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 04:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,120
On a recent flight CDG-FRA-SFO one of my locked bags arrived w/o the TSA lock and with the holes on the ends of the zippers snipped through so that no lock can be used in the future. Luckily it was a cheap bag, but I would have thought they could have just cut the lock itself if necessary. I assume it was an inspection rather than theft as nothing was missing.

I had never before had a problem with locking bags on any international flights, but maybe never had one inspected before. In any case, one lock gone over dozens of flight, no biggie.

shellio is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
I personally recommend cable ties...

I flew to Japan a couple of years ago and used a plastic cable tie, as I typically do when checking a bag. TSA inspected my bag; I found the note inside when I unpacked in Tokyo. But, instead of cutting off the cable tie (what's so hard about that?), someone ripped it off, along with one end of the zipper, so I could not (and never will be able to) lock the bag. Fortunately, it wasn't an expensive bag, but still annoying...
ms_go is online now  
Jul 14th, 2008, 06:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
I used twist ties, just to keep the zipper pulls together.

I learned, when I couldn't remember the safe place I put my keys, that you can seperate/open any nylon zipper with a ball point pen, and reclose it by running the locked zipper pulls along it, very easily.

There's really no way to know who cut your lock if there was no notice in the bag with the broken lock.

But, you can contact TSA, as noted on their web site:

"If you would like to pass on any positive feedback or concerns to TSA regarding your experience, feel free to contact a screener supervisor while you're at the airport.

You may also contact the TSA Contact Center by e-mailing [email protected].

TSA takes all input very seriously and will respond promptly and appropriately to all complaints or comments."
djkbooks is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 08:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
This has happened to me in the past - when they do check the bags, usually they place a note in the bag saying that the bag was opened by officials for checking. I do beleive that one time, the lock was removed and placed inside the bag and they used one of those ties to secure the zippers .......
HariS is offline  
Jul 16th, 2008, 05:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,337
Thank you all for the many responses. Some are very helpful . Here are a few points of clarification:

"My "plan B" is to ask friends at one of our U.S. Senator's office to research this for me."

The key word is friends, all of whom I know on a first name basis (and vice versa). Of course I wouldnít contact the Senator over something so minor.

Yes, the cut-off lock was left in the suitcase along with a card from TSA saying the bag was opened by them.

Being a long-time civil servant (31 years and now happily retired) I hold other government employees to high standards of performance. In my position, carelessness was not tolerated. Call me naïve, but I expect other government employees to perform to the best of their ability.

This is what Iíve concluded from your responses:

I did not know that Travel Sentry locks are replaceable, free of charge, if cut off by TSA. This is probably what Iíll do. Thanks for the suggestion!

I accept the fact that TSA is permitted to cut locks off. If this happened because of carelessness (not even looking for the ďred diamondĒ and trying the master key), then I am much less satisfied. They can do better and TSA supervisors would probably agree.

I feel more comfortable having my bags locked! (I guess Iíve seen too many hidden camera videos of baggage handlers rifling through checked bags behind the scenes. In the Miami airport (MIA) some travelers to a few Caribbean or South American destinations even have their luggage sealed in plastic wrap to prevent pilferage.)

Iíll have to look into the cable ties option.

Again, thanks to everybody for your responses and suggestions.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Jul 16th, 2008, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
If you want to use cable ties, you can get them cheaply in your dollar store.
Jed is offline  
Jul 16th, 2008, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 137
"My 'plan B' is to ask friends at one of our U.S. Senator's office to research this for me."

Regarding your "plan B," I have to believe your friends have actual work to do that might interfere with your request. The fact that they work for a Senator is irrelevant to the extent you're not asking the Senator to get involved. In that case, you're just asking for free legal (and not really even legal, more like secretarial) help. Despite your dutifully paying your taxes, members of Congress and their staff don't exist to help you look up contact information for members of the TSA. Unless you're planning on paying your friends for being the lucky recipients of your outsourced TSA angst, I would let it drop. In addition, if the contact information is, in fact, "semi-confidential" (whatever that means), why would your friends want to risk getting themselves (and potentially their boss) in trouble for violating said duty of confidentiality.
jgold is offline  
Jul 17th, 2008, 05:46 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,507
I have to agree with jgold - why are you making such a fuss and why are you willing to ask your "friends" to risk abusing the trust of their position in a Senator's office over an $8 lock which you can get replaced by the manufacturer?

As a former "civil servant" surely you realize there's a bureaucracy involved here that isn't designed to address "petty matters" (and this is certainly very petty) very well and that often makes it difficult to talk with a real person. You don't say what type of "civil servant" you were but I'd be willing to bet your individual contact information was not redidly available to the general public.

All that aside, it appears you are obsessing over something so minor as to be inconsequential to anyone.

RoamsAround is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:07 AM.