How to open a TSA lock

The U.S. Department of Transportation stated that in 2022, about 220,000 travel bags were mismanaged. This covered missing, damaged, looted, and late luggage.

But what can travelers do to protect their valued items? Opt for luggage that has a TSA-approved locked integrated in the design, like the Solgaard Carry-On Closet. Alternatively, you can purchase a TSA lock for your existing luggage. 

Find out how to open a TSA lock and much more by reading on!

What is a TSA lock?


All travel authorities, including the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA), must screen luggage before they’re loaded onto aircrafts. Throughout the inspection process, it’s sometimes necessary for agents to even open travelers’ luggage.

With standard luggage locks, travel authorities often have to break open bags which makes them unusable. TSA lock systems put travelers’ minds at ease because they keep luggage secure while still giving the ability to security agents to open the locks.

What Should You Know About TSA locks?

A company called Travel Sentry develops and manufactures accessories for travel security that meet the standards of the TSA. One of the most common accessories they created was TSA locks.

TSA locks are not mandatory for travel but keep in mind if you use a different lock and your luggage needs to be opened by security agents, they have the right to break the lock and could possibly damage your luggage.

Many brands make a variety of TSA locks like:

  • Padlocks
  • Cable locks
  • Numbered-combination locks (3 or 4 numbers)

Remember, only security agents know how to open a TSA lock.

How to Open TSA locks When You Forget the Combination?

Unfortunately, if you forget the combination, it may take some time to figure out how to open a TSA lock.

Heading to the store where you purchased the lock or calling a locksmith are options, however, Travel Sentry recommends trying every numbered combination possible. It may seem like it’s a never-ending task, but they claim it should only take around 30 minutes. If all else fails, you might have to shell out some more dough for a new TSA lock.

Tools That Can Be Used to Open a TSA Lock


The good news is that only TSA staff have the master/universal keys and know how to open a TSA lock. There are no known tools that can do this so, you know you’ll be in good hands. 

How to Change the Combination on Your TSA Lock

Here are the steps to reset a 3-digit TSA combination padlock:

  • Set the lock to your current code to 000
  • Lift the shackle and rotate it clockwise by 90 degrees
  • Push the shackle down and rotate it clockwise again by 90 degrees
  • Set your 3-digit combination and finally rotate the shackle back to the start position

You can check out how to reset other types of TSA locks here.

TSA-Approved Locks

The TSA endorses and certifies TSA-approved locks. Fortunately, numerous brands manufacture TSA-approved locks so you can easily find them anywhere in the world. When shopping for a TSA lock, always look for the red diamond symbol

Tips for Traveling With a TSA Lock


  • Double check that your lock is properly closed/locked before handing off your bag to security or storing it away
  • Pick a combination that can’t be easily guessed
  • Ensure you keep your combination code close to you and don’t share it with anyone
  • If your bag has been inspected by airport security, you should find a notice inside.
  • If your lock is missing after an inspection, contact the brand for a replacement. If you believe the lock was broken due to mishandling, you can file a claim with the airline. 

Long Story Short...

Every piece of Solgaard luggage comes with a TSA-approved lock so you don't have to worry about a thing. It’s better to be safe than sorry!


Written by Arista Caldera