Which luggage locks are best?

It is a federal law that Transportation Security Authority baggage screeners have access to your luggage so they can open it and inspect it. If your lock is not approved for travel by the TSA, baggage screeners will cut it off, rendering it useless.

All TSA-approved locks are designed so they can be opened by special tools, codes and master keys held only by TSA baggage handlers. If you are looking for a TSA-certified luggage lock that uses a steel cable and opens with a numerical code, take a look at the Travelmore TSA Approved Combination Cable Luggage Lock.

What to know before you buy a luggage lock

TSA approval

If you plan on checking your locked luggage when you fly, you must have a lock that is approved and certified by the TSA as one they can open with their special tools. TSA-approved luggage locks are easily identified by a special red logo printed on the lock itself.

Shackle

Shackles are padlocks with metal bodies and a U-shaped loop of solid steel. They are unlocked via a key or a combination. The shackle is the movable portion attached to the inside of the lock body. Shackles come in different lengths, so choose a lock long enough to connect the pieces you want locked together. Closed shackle luggage locks are more secure than the standard type you see people using on bicycles and school lockers.

Cable

This type of luggage lock has a flexible woven metal cable you thread through zipper heads to keep people from opening your luggage. Because cables are narrower in diameter than shackles, they are often used in light-duty applications.

Barrel

This uniquely shaped luggage lock opens with a key or combination. The cable is a straight stem, not the typical design where the cable loops around and inserts into the lock body like a shackle does. The cable has a wide flange attached to one end and unlocks from the barrel at the other for inserting through zipper heads. 

Straps

 heavy-duty adjustable nylon straps

Another alternative to locks that slip through zippers is heavy-duty adjustable nylon straps with quick-connect TSA lock buckles. The locks are operated by combination. The crisscrossing straps are stretchable elasticized nylon with a nonslip silicone pad.

Seals

TSA-approved tamper-evident seals

Some manufacturers sell TSA-approved tamper-evident seals. These look like small plastic zip ties and cable bundlers. Like locks, TSA baggage handlers open these seals with special tools. The nature of this device is more of a seal than an actual lock.

What to look for in a quality luggage lock

Key vs. combination

Combination locks are easy to use but you have to remember the numbers. Key locks are also easy to use but you’d better not lose your key ring. If you see yourself losing your combination or your keys, choose a light-duty luggage lock you can disable yourself with simple household tools.

Lock sets

You can buy TSA-approved luggage locks individually or in packs of two to six locks. It is a good idea to have a spare luggage lock in the event of a malfunction while you are packing for a trip.

How much you can expect to spend on a luggage lock

TSA-approved luggage locks made with the most common shackle or cable styles start at $10 or less each, as do single locks with keys or combinations. The highest prices for sets of luggage locks are about $25.

Luggage lock FAQ

Is any luggage lock entirely safe?

A. No, but the best luggage locks come as close to tamper-proof as you can get in a consumer product.

What if you want a luggage lock but don’t fly on commercial airplanes?

A. If your luggage will not be going through TSA screening, your lock does not need to be TSA approved.

What’s the best luggage lock to buy?

Top luggage lock 

Travelmore TSA Approved Combination Cable Luggage Lock

Travelmore TSA Approved Combination Cable Luggage Lock

What you need to know: This cable padlock is travel-sentry certified and comes with a lifetime warranty.

What you’ll love: The reinforced woven steel cable is flexible so you can thread it through all types of luggage zippers. The zinc alloy body and hardened steel shackles of this luggage lock are waterproof and will not rust. The three-digit combination is easy to set. This luggage lock comes with an instructional video.

What you should consider: Some people struggled with setting their combinations.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top luggage lock for the money

Travelmore 4-Pack TSA-Approved Barrel Luggage Key Operated Padlocks

Travelmore 4-Pack TSA-Approved Barrel Luggage Key Operated Padlocks

What you need to know: These luggage locks have a barrel-shaped body with a keyhole at the bottom and a detachable wire cable stem at the top.

What you’ll love: The cable slips easily through zipper pulls, suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, computer cases, purse latches and more. These weatherproof locks are made of durable zinc alloy and plated steel. All locks in this set are on the same key, and TSA’s master key works with all of them.

What you should consider: This lock works on any luggage but is designed for smaller applications.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Anvil TSA-Approved 4-Digit Combination Luggage Shackle Lock 2-Pack

Anvil TSA-Approved 4-Digit Combination Luggage Shackle Lock 2-Pack

What you need to know: The four digits this lock uses means greater security. 

What you’ll love: TSA baggage agents must relock it to be able to remove their master key. The zinc alloy body and hardened steel shackle stand up to rough handling and abuse. You can set the combination in less than 20 seconds with a simple twist and pull of the shackle.

What you should consider: The length of the shackle is shorter than a typical cable lock, so it may not fit all types of luggage.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money

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