What is a TSA lock and how do I set it?

Translated from German by Abha Vardhan (2019)


The flight to the USA went without any problems and the well-deserved vacation is already waiting behind the airport doors. But then, the shock! The padlock is gone and the rest of the suitcase looks pretty battered too.

What happened? The American officials wanted to control the locked suitcase and so the suitcase was broken and opened. Annoying, but for the staff, it was legitimate. To avoid this happening again, we, therefore, recommend a TSA lock.

TSA Lock - What Does It Mean?

After the unfortunate incident of 9/11, the policies of air travel have changed drastically. There are much improved and tighter securities in every airport that go along with stringent baggage regulations; for instance, the amount of liquid and sharp objects you can take on board.

Transport Security Administrations or TSA was founded for the security of the country for possible attacks. The functions of the TSA are varied and one of them is to examine the baggage of air travelers. They regularly check millions of suitcases for toxic materials, explosives at over thousands of locations in over 450 airports in the United States.

It does not matter if the person wants to enter the USA directly or if they just want to make a stopover until the next flight. If the officials notice something or if your suitcase is selected as a sample, it will be opened and searched. In contrast to other countries, such as in Germany or Canada, you will not be informed about the investigation, only an information leaflet will be settled afterward.

If the TSA officials were not able to check your belongings because you have locked your luggage, they are entitled to break the suitcase and you will not receive any compensation for the lock and/or any other damages that they have made to your luggage.

However, this is only the case if you do not have a TSA lock on your luggage. These special TSA locks have a master key, which allows others to search your suitcase without having the number code or the "right" key.

This master key is not officially available on the market but is only used by some designated TSA officials. Thus, you do not have to worry that any person can just buy the master keys in the store and get their hands on your luggage.

More importantly, the security officers in other countries do not have a TSA key, which is why most of the luggage is still searched in the presence of the owner.

How Do I Know If A Lock Is Suitable For TSA?

The TSA-compatible padlocks are either already integrated into the case or purchased separately and attached. The locks are locked either by numeric code or with a key. There are also TSA-approved luggage belts.

TSA has worked with numerous companies to create specialized locks that let passengers secure their goods from theft and also allow the TSA to unlock and check their contents with the help of a universal master key. These locks are referred to as the TSA locks or TSA approved locks.

TSA locks are produced by two different manufacturers; Travel Sentry and Safe Skies. The company Travel Sentry is more famous of the two and you can quickly recognize their logos on their products.

The logo of Travel Sentry is a red diamond shape on a white background and the logo of the company Safe Skies is a red-white torch. Incidentally, Travel Sentry is also called TSA, meaning Travel Sentry Approved, which is similar to the competent authority Transport Security Administrations.

The locks are always numbered (TSA001, TSA002, TSA003, TSA004, TSA005, TSA006, and TSA007), which serve as an indication to the authorities to which TSA master key they must use.

How to Set the Number Code?

So, you’ve gotten a TSA-compatible combination lock and now you want to set it?

Here is an informative general guide for your assistance:

  • The starting combination should be set to 0-0-0. This is the factory setting.
  • Now, press the adjusting knob with a pointed object, e.g. a pencil, until it makes an audible click sound.
  • Turn the wheel to enter your number code. If necessary, write it down on a piece of paper so you will not forget it.
  • Move the opening slider until the adjustment knob returns to the start position.
  • Your number combination is now set. You can now hook the zipper zips in the lock to lock your suitcase.

Please note that this is a general setting and that the procedure may vary depending on the type of lock and its manufacturer.

From our own experience, we would like to advise you to enter a code immediately upon receiving, as we are aware of a few cases in which lock combinations have shifted due to heavy jerking, for example, by having the suitcase roll on cobblestones.

Instructions for Setting the TSA Combination Lock on A Travelite CrossLITE

  • Make sure that the combination shows 0 three times when the lock is first set. This is the factory setting.
  • Press the adjustment knob with a sharp object, such as a pen, until you hear a clear click.

Important: Not every new TSA lock on Travelite have an adjustment knob. In this case, you just have to move the slide button (the direction is indicated by an arrow on the button) and then hold that position.

  • Enter your new number combination.
  • Now, move the slider button so that the adjustment knob springs back. If you have a lock without a knob, then let the slide button slide back to its original position.
  • That's it. You have successfully set the TSA lock. If you want to set a new combination, just repeat steps 2-4.

Instructions for Setting the Integrated TSA Combination Lock on A TITAN X2

  • Before you begin, make sure that the number combination is set at 0-0-0, which is the factory setting for a new case. If you or someone else has already set the code, you must set this number combination. Press the adjustment knob.
  • There is a small knob on the side of the TSA lock. Press this with a sharp object such as a small pen, until you hear a "click".
  • Now, set your desired number combination. Important: If necessary, make a note of it before or immediately afterward! We can assure you that one of the most common reasons for customer problems in our shop is a forgotten combination. Press the opening slide.
  • Once the desired code has been set, press the opening slider until the adjustment knob returns.
  • You did it! The Titan case will now only be able to be opened by the correct combination.

Instructions for Setting the Lock for A-Frame Case Like the TITAN Prior

  • Set the number combination to 0-0-0 the first time. Now, open the closure on the side. On the back, you will find a small slider.
  • Press the slider left or down and hold it for a while.
  • Enter your code using the number of wheels.
  • Release the slider to return it to its original position.

What to Do If You Have Forgotten Your Combination of Numbers?

  • Try all numbers from 0-0-0 to 9-9-9. There are 1,000 possible combinations here but now that you are skeptical and think it would take hours; we can reassure you. We have done this a few times ourselves and have needed between 20-60 minutes.
  • Try the twisted code (example: the code is 0-0-0, the twisted code would be 5-5-5).
  • Contact the seller from whom you have the TSA lock.
  • Communicate directly to the manufacturer of the item of luggage. (Always try to fix this via the seller first).
  • Try to turn number wheels for padlocks until you hear a clear click.
  • Check if you can see a notch on the wheels. At this point (or the right or left of it) it is the right combination.
  • Pierce the zipper with a ballpoint pen and open the case. Important: You may not be able to close the case afterward, therefore, you should use this as a last resort.
  • Try to crack the lock trying with a lockpick or jiggler.

Use TCA Locks to Avoid Hassles and Inconvenience

You must purchase a TSA lock when traveling to the US if your suitcase does not already have one. With a TSA lock, you will not face any possible delays and damages to your suitcase due to a possible examination.

Most suitcase manufacturers have installed a TSA lock on their products rather than a regular lock. In the past few years, suitcases with integrated TSA locks have become very popular among travelers. You can get these suitcases from any reputed brand such as Rimowa, Delsey, Samsonite, Victorinox and many more.

As an alternative, you can consider not locking your suitcases, but we would advise against that as it may increase the chances of theft. We advise travelers to use TSA locks but they must not forget the unlock combinations! Also, make sure to set the lock code a few days before departure and see if it works.


Source: koffermarkt.com

Written By: Susanne