The Reasons I Never Lock My Suitcase When I Fly

While some do it religiously, others say why bother? I am among the “others.”

When you’re packing for a flight, one of the things you have to do is decide whether or not to lock your suitcase. Most people make the decision based on what they think is the safest option for them.

But what if I told you that locking your suitcase can lead to more problems than it solves?

For one, a damaged or malfunctioning lock can make it difficult to open your luggage. If you’re in a hurry and need to get to your things fast, you’re going to be out of luck.

Another problem with locking your suitcase is that it can make it more difficult for airport security staff to inspect your bag if they need to. They have the authority to break open any locked bag if they suspect it may contain something that could pose a threat to the safety of other passengers. Locking your bags might result in your baggage lock being tampered with or broken in such a scenario.

Locks on luggage are usually rickety and easy to break. However, it is important to remember that a purloiner in the luggage handling area doesn’t have a lot of time to waste. He is more likely to be attracted to a locked bag than one that is unlocked. Thieves ignore most unlocked bags because they assume no one will put valuables inside them. Therefore, it is usually best to leave your bags unlocked.

So far, I have never lost anything from my unlocked checked baggage. I have, however, had several friends who have lost things from their locked bags.

Be careful not to advertise yourself as “worth stealing.” I have seen many people plastic wrap their bags. This makes it quite obvious that there is something valuable inside. By doing this, you are just asking for trouble. The seasoned purloiner takes less than a minute to slice the wrap at the corners and open the bag.

If you are unsure whether your bag latch holds it together, you can tie your bag closed with an old scarf or bandana. This will keep it closed without calling attention to the contents.

Number locks are often touted as being more secure than traditional padlocks. After all, it is much harder to guess a digit code than it is to easily identify a familiar key. However, the truth is that number locks are far from impenetrable. Numerous videos on YouTube show how to quickly and easily crack a number lock. So while number locks may offer a false sense of security, they are one of the easiest types of locks to pick. It is not uncommon for people to recommend TSA locks, but they are nothing more than marketing ploys.

Don’t do anything stupid like scribbling your name and address in white chalk on the bag or affixing a heavily taped label. You are not only drawing unnecessary attention to your bag, but you are also increasing the likelihood that authorities will open and inspect it.

I still remember my first international trip, when I labeled all sides of my checked luggage with my name and address. Authorities opened my bags half of the time, even though I had not packed anything suspicious.

This might be of interest to you…

How to Pack Like a Pro: The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist

Finally, whether or not you lock your suitcase when flying is entirely up to you. The point is that even if you lock your bag, people can still get into it. So, what’s the point of locking it in the first place?

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