Information on suitcase TSA Locks

Most modern suitcases have TSA Locks, which enable Customs Officers around the world to access your suitcase if they need to check the contents without breaking into your case.  There are various types of TSA Locks on the market, but they essentially work the same.

If you are looking to purchase a suitcase with a TSA lock then please browse our selection here.

Here we will answer the 2 common questions regarding TSA locks:

1. Where Is The Key?

TSA locks have a keyhole, which implies that there should be a corresponding key. 

TSA Keyhole

Well, there is a key, but it is only used by US Customs Officers and other Customs Officers around the world if they want to look in your case.  This means they don't have to  cut open your case if they want to look at the contents.

2. How Do I Open The Lock And Set The Combination?

Some suitcase manufacturers don’t place the lock instructions on the outside of the case (hello Samsonite!), so if you are not used to TSA locks, then it is not always obvious what to do.

IMPORTANT NOTE: when setting the lock always ensure that the zip pulls are not clicked into the lock.  In the unlikely event that you make a mistake when setting the lock then you can still access the case.  We've received calls from panicking travellers who have set the lock incorrectly and all their possessions are locked inside.

There are a few variations of the TSA lock.  When you receive your case the lock will be set at the default code of ‘000’.

Variation 1

When you receive a case with this lock all you need to do is push the circular keylock to the right hand side and the lock will open.

TSA Variation 1

To set a new combination for this lock all you do is push the circular keylock to the right and hold it, then set your 3-digit code and release the circular keylock.

Variation 2 

When you receive a case with this lock all you need to do is push the square panel on the right hand side of the lock to release the lock.

TSA Variation 2

To set the lock you will need to look under the lock where you will see a small button.  Find a pin or pen and push in the button, set your 3-digit combination, then push the square panel to the left.  You will hear a click and the lock is now set.

Variation 3

To open this lock you need to push the square keylock on the left-hand side of this image.

TSA Variation 3

To set the combination on this lock you need to push down the square silver button to the right of the combination, select your 3-digit code, then push down the square keylock.

***Just to reiterate: No matter what TSA Lock you have we always recommend setting the lock with the zip pulls not clicked in to the lock.  If you set the lock incorrectly and the zip pulls are in the lock, then you can't get into the suitcase.  We've fielded calls from people who are about to leave for the airport and they've inadvertently locked themselves out of their suitcase by settling the lock incorrectly.

What happens if I have locked myself out of my suitcase?

If you find yourself in this position there are 2 options:

1. Send the case to the manufacturer's repair centre where they can reset the lock.  This does take time, possibly up to 2 weeks at peak times, so this option doesn't work if you are travelling soon.

2. If you are travelling very soon then we suggest using a flat-head screwdriver (or equivalent tool) and slide it between the zip pulls and the lock and then prise the zip pulls out of the lock.  This means the case can be used in the short-term.  Most zip pulls have loops, so if you then purchase a TSA padlock you can lock your case.  However, on return from your travel we recommend contacting the manufacturer's repair centre and getting the TSA lock on your case replaced.

If you have any questions regarding TSA locks, then please contact us here or on 01403 713332.