TSA locks don’t actually make luggage more secure – here’s what a top Samsonite exec says they’re really used for


Luggage bags are the underappreciated heroes of any vacation.

Think about it.

A missing bag leaves us with nothing but despair and frustration. And yet we hardly think twice about the luggage we buy, and they end up getting pushed around carelessly and thrown violently onto luggage carousels like they don’t matter.

You might ask, is there really a smarter way to treat our luggage though?

According to Samsonite Singapore and Malaysia’s general manager Mr Satish Peerubandi, there actually are many misconceptions surrounding the choosing and using of luggage.

We reached out to him for some expert tips and here’s what we learnt:

TSA locks do not protect your bags better than other locks

“People have the wrong perception that TSA locks (are safer). But that is not the purpose of the TSA lock,” said Mr Peerubandi.

In the US, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires access to luggage bags without the passenger being present.

The use of TSA locks simply allows officers to open and re-lock bags without having to break the lock.

So if you want to keep your bags safe, you should use “bags with anti-theft zippers, or go for hard case luggage bags” as they are harder to break, he says.

Hard case luggage bags are not necessarily heavier than soft ones

According to Mr Peerubandi, some people still believe that soft shell bags weigh a lot less compared to hard shell bags.

“But hard shell bags don’t have to be heavy,” he says.

These days, a hard case check-in bag can weigh as little as 2kg while a carry-on one can go as low as 1.7kg.

Of course the materials used to make soft or hard case bags make a significant difference to their weight. So it isn’t true that hard case bags are always going to be a waste of baggage weight allowance.

An in-built lock or latch does not make a bag more anti-theft

“People think that having a frame in the center of a hard shell luggage is safer, but that’s not necessarily true,” Mr Peerubandi says.

Or they think that “if you can latch your suitcase, it is safer. But that is not true anymore,” he added.

Instead, the only way to make your luggage safer is to look out for safety measures like the anti-theft zipper.

And besides, there are plenty of new technologies which can help give you a peace of mind. So if luggage theft is something you’re concerned about, you should also look at getting  bags with inbuilt geo-tracking or luggage accessories that have tracking technologies.