Airline Guidelines on Locked Luggage

Keeping your luggage securely locked when traveling is undoubtedly one of the best and most reliable methods of keeping your belongings safe. Moreover, the use of luggage locks certainly gives any traveler the peace of mind he or she needs especially during long-haul flights.  However, it is important for every traveler to know the guidelines set by airlines on this subject.

Airline Guidelines on Locked Luggage

Guidelines set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Before anything else, please take note that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has its own guidelines and policies, which may be completely different from airline policies. As a general rule, luggage is screened using electronic baggage screeners. However, if TSA personnel believe that it is necessary to check the inside of the bag, they are allowed to break the locks. TSA officials are also allowed to snip zip-ties to check the bags. Even if you use a combination lock, these officials can still open your luggage using a master key.

It is also important to note that there are locks that are TSA-approved. These locks bear the logos of ‘Safe Skies’ and ‘Travel Sentry’, and are available in retail stores. Another distinct characteristic of these locks is that they come in different patterns, colors, and styles, which aid in identifying your own luggage.  TSA also recommends travelers to use tags where their name, address and contact information is written. There should be one outside the luggage and another one inside.

When it comes to firearms, travelers are allowed to carry them as long as they are not loaded and are checked in. They must also declare the presence of any firearm upon check-in. The ammunition must be packed well in a cardboard. It is prohibited for travelers to bring with them the percussion caps or black powder.

Guidelines set by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

As per the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority guidelines, the officers are allowed to physically check the inside of the luggage.  As opposed to TSA, the CATSA officials are now legally allowed to break the locks.  However, they have a special tool to use in opening and re-securing the locks. As with TSA, they also require specific types of locks. These locks also bear one of the two approved logos. It is either ‘Safe Skies’ or ‘Travel Sentry’. It would be helpful to ask retailer stores about these specific CATSA-approved items.

As part of the protocol, if your bag is searched and unlocked by CATSA,  a card will be placed inside it. The card bears the message –“ Notification of Checked Baggage Inspection”. However, if they are unable to open the luggage due to the use of specialized locks, they will not issue a clearance. When an item or belonging is damaged due to the physical search needed to perform on the luggage, the group will not be held liable.

The travelers are also expected  to cooperate throughout the search process. It is also advised that travelers be guided and informed on what’s allowed and what’s prohibited by their chosen airlines.

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