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TSA Ruined My Luggage…Traveling Again Soon…Now What?

TSA Ruined My Luggage…Traveling Again Soon…Now What?

Old Aug 29th, 2023, 05:19 AM
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TSA Ruined My Luggage…Traveling Again Soon…Now What?

I flew from San Diego to Santa Rosa California with a checked piece of soft luggage locked with a TSA approved lock. I grabbed my bag upon arrival and didn’t open it until I got home. Didn’t notice anything amiss. When I went to open it, it was trashed. The lock was gone and the zipper was destroyed. It’s a miracle they got it zipped back up at all. The good news…nothing was missing…including an expensive Dyson hair dryer. And it was an older piece of luggage. I’ll make a claim, but I’m not holding my breath. I am planning a long haul trip abroad (with one layover) very soon. I need to buy a new piece of luggage. To carry on luggage is really hard for me. I’ll buy new TSA approved locks. But, should I not use locks at all? I don’t plan to spend a lot on my next 22” rolled piece. Any suggestions on brands or styles….advice on locks or no locks? Thank you!
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Old Aug 29th, 2023, 05:39 AM
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We use hard-sided luggage and have never used a TSA lock. We use cable ties, running them between the zippers. We've not had a bag opened for inspection in many years.

Hard sided luggage holds up a lot better than soft-sided when it comes to checking on bags.

Ours are Samsonite.

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 29th, 2023 at 05:46 AM.
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Old Aug 29th, 2023, 08:19 AM
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It's hard to know if locks advertised as TSA locks are the real thing. I purchased some TSA #7 locks years ago that were genuine. I recently purchased new ones on Amazon and found the #7 keys didn't work with them. I'm just using zip ties from now on. Throw extras in your bag. As to luggage, we've found TravelPro soft-sided bags both carry-on and checked to be durable and lighter than hard-sided.
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Old Aug 29th, 2023, 10:00 AM
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For luggage that gets tossed around a lot, or that might get rained on, I prefer the hard cases although they weigh a bit more. For a larger checked bag I now have an off-brand (Signature?) soft sided which I bought at one of those stores like TJMaxx etc. It was drenched in a downpour recently which reinforced my preference for hard sided. I also prefer 4 wheels which are easier to handle in multiple directions and down narrow aisles (such as on trains or the airport shuttle bus). Some people like two wheels which do weigh less but don't handle as welll. If you are only doing a taxi and going from hotel to hotel maybe okay. If you don't mind two wheels Amazon carries Travelpro Maxlite and a few colors are on sale now.


I like to inspect before purchase and see how they are divided inside. I prefer cases that have the fewest zippers which add weight. I never shop by brand or spend $300 on a piece of luggage. If you have time and can order ahead you can also try Macy's sales, Amazon, Samsonite, etc. Look for a good return policy if you don't like what you ordered. It can be hard to find a single bag in that particular size though, they are often sold in sets.

I agree, no built in lock. Cable ties, just be sure to pack a nail clipper separately!

Last edited by mlgb; Aug 29th, 2023 at 10:35 AM.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 04:51 AM
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Thank you for all the great ideas and recommendations. Are zip ties and cable ties the same thing? And thanks for being kind. Sometimes I ask a question on this site and feel like I’m being scolded. I’ll look into all of this. All that I need is a 22” piece of luggage…maybe I should just carry it on.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 06:20 AM
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Yes, zip ties and cable ties are the same thing.

Amazon Amazon
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 09:25 AM
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Thank you! I looked up on Lufthansa and it read that I could carry on a piece that was 20” tall and not more than 17 pounds. My piece would be more than that. But, I see folks carrying on pieces on small domestic flights way bigger than that. I plan to buy a 22” piece. Did I read it wrong?
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 09:38 AM
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The 'industry standard' for carry on luggage is 22x14x9 (inches)

Lufthansa's site indicates 55x40x23 (cm), which is 21.65 x15.7x9 when converted to inches, with a weight limit of 8 kg, or 17.63 lbs.

However, they also have variations depending on route, so I suggest you plug in your specific route to check the dimensions.

The issue is overhead space...the dimensions of overhead space on different planes can differ significantly, so some 'standard' sizes don't fit.

This, and the average traveler's propensity to overpack and push the limits is why my carry on is just a backpack, plus a small personal item (small purse).

Fighting for overhead space is just not how I personally want to travel anymore.

IME US carriers on long haul flights have always been more generous when it comes to carry ons than international carriers (European, Australian, New Zealand, Asian, etc), but your mileage may vary.

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 30th, 2023 at 09:42 AM.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 10:32 AM
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Domestic US flights are more generous with the carryon sizes, although still vary a little. Overseas is often smaller (the width seems a particular issue) . If they are being strict they include the wheels and handle. So I often check a bag on interntational and use a soft sided backpack/duffle for the carryon. Note that your jacket won't count toward your allowance. Some airlines are stricter and make you combine your purse and carryon. It will also depend on your ticket some times you have two carryon. But the size may not change.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 03:38 PM
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Thank you!
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 05:20 PM
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** It was drenched in a downpour recently which reinforced my preference for hard sided. **

I put a garbage bag in one of the outside pockets. If it rains, I just put a slit for the handle and pull the bag over it. Garbage bags take up no space and weigh nothing.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 10:14 PM
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Good idea re the garbage bag. I'm not used to rain.I used my spare socks to sop up some of the moisture after I reached the terminal. I even had an umbrella over it but in New Zealand it is known to rain sideways.
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Old Aug 31st, 2023, 06:40 AM
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My soft sided luggage got soaked once too - unfortunately, it happened as it was being off-loaded from the plane, so I didn't have the opportunity to do the bag trick (which is a good idea).


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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by seeksocean
I flew from San Diego to Santa Rosa California with a checked piece of soft luggage locked with a TSA approved lock. I grabbed my bag upon arrival and didn’t open it until I got home. Didn’t notice anything amiss. When I went to open it, it was trashed. The lock was gone and the zipper was destroyed. It’s a miracle they got it zipped back up at all. The good news…nothing was missing…including an expensive Dyson hair dryer. And it was an older piece of luggage. I’ll make a claim, but I’m not holding my breath. I am planning a long haul trip abroad (with one layover) very soon. I need to buy a new piece of luggage. To carry on luggage is really hard for me. I’ll buy new TSA approved locks. But, should I not use locks at all? I don’t plan to spend a lot on my next 22” rolled piece. Any suggestions on brands or styles….advice on locks or no locks? Thank you!
Just out of curiosity, did TSA leave a note stating they had inspected your bag? If not, how do you know they did it?

One time on a return trip, several of us had our bags broken in to via the zipper and rifled through -- nothing missing as we don't put valuables there, but it definitely was not TSA.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 12:27 PM
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Opening a zipper on soft sided luggage has had instructions on line for years.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by AJPeabody
Opening a zipper on soft sided luggage has had instructions on line for years.
I don't doubt it. The way it was done on ours, the lock was still in place and they were able to re-zip it so it was not at all obvious until we were opening it and looked closely at the zipper. Quite professional work.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 05:43 PM
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Honestly it was the first thing I thought…they did not leave a note. But all my stuff was in there. Including a very expensive Dyson air styling tool (which won’t be in my luggage anyway this next trip.
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Old Sep 6th, 2023, 05:51 AM
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I ended up buying a Samsonite hard shell 20” with 4 rollers. I’ll miss the two extra inches that my soft luggage afforded me, but that’s okay. And ironically it was senior day at Ross. Ten percent off! Very reasonable. Thanks for all your help!
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