Why a suitcase lock is not always a good idea in flight

Why a suitcase lock is not always a good idea

Flight tips

Why a suitcase lock is not always recommended in flight

Out of fear of thieves and rude ground staff, travelers often lock their suitcases when traveling by plane. Why such securing is not always a good idea – and how luggage is properly secured.

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To protect their luggage from theft, many travelers lock their luggage with a padlock on the zipper before the flight. Others want to prevent the suitcase from opening when it is being processed. You choose a padlock that will hold the zippers together on the zipper. A third reason is that a padlock can prevent the misuse of luggage by smugglers.

Nonetheless, an airport employee explained that the additional fixation on the suitcase can quickly backfire.

Insider Explains: Case Lock Can Do The Opposite

In a Reddit survey, a porter explained a few years ago that the padlock was a sign to many employees that the suitcase needed a closer look because prohibited items could be hidden in it.

Basically, every piece of baggage goes through baggage screening at the airport before departure – whether it’s hand baggage or a checked baggage. If suspicious content is suspected, it should be opened. According to information from Frankfurt Airport, the identification of such baggage is carried out by employees of the aviation security check, who are also responsible for checking hand baggage.

A lock can increase the chances that your suitcase will be searched. (Symbol photo)

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If a suitcase needs to be opened, however, third-party providers such as security companies that work for the airline or the airport are usually brought in. If in doubt, they must break the lock.

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Secure the housing

So what to do If you absolutely want to use additional security, you should only use standardized TSA locks with a combination of numbers. These are already attached to many modern suitcases.

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These fuses have been specially developed for air transport and can be opened with the appropriate tools without damage. The TSA standard is mainly used in the United States – but is also used in other countries like Germany.

It is also crucial to pack properly so that no suspicious items are found in the suitcase in the first place. It is often batteries, power banks and electronic cigarettes that open the luggage, according to Frankfurt Airport at the request of the German press agency.

These objects have their place in hand luggage, matches or lighters must even be carried on the body, for example in a trouser pocket. Weapons of all kinds must be registered, dangerous goods such as camping gas canisters or fireworks cannot be taken at all – neither in carry-on baggage nor in the checked-in suitcase.

By the way: if you just want to secure your suitcase before it opens, you can also use a simple strap that clips around the luggage and also prevents it from accidentally opening.

Note to editors: This article first appeared in November 2019. We updated it in October 2021.

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