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I heard you should not lock your luggage for European flights?

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I was told not to lock your luggage if you are traveling by air to Europe.  It was said that European officials do not have TSA keys and will cut your locks off.  This leaves me concerned that the bag will unzip at some time during the trip or someone will rummage through it.  I was interested in what others have done.  Thanks for the input.

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We have never locked our luggage in 35 years of travel, foreign or domestic. Never had a problem. My golf clubs get searched EVERY time.

 

First rule of packing....you NEVER put any valuables or other important items in a checked bag.

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I use zip ties to secure the zippers together. This way they can be cut off by security where needed, but for random baggage thieves it's an extra step for them. I also know immediately when I take them off the baggage belt that they've been opened.

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4 hours ago, terry&mike said:

I use zip ties to secure the zippers together. This way they can be cut off by security where needed, but for random baggage thieves it's an extra step for them. I also know immediately when I take them off the baggage belt that they've been opened.

How do you cut the zip ties off when you get to your destination?  You can not carry any sharp objects on the plane.

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I also use zip ties.  Done it for years.  I don't zip tie every zipper and keep a small jack knife in a separate suitcase pocket.  I suspect this works best for soft sided luggage.

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59 minutes ago, Lazz said:

How do you cut the zip ties off when you get to your destination?  You can not carry any sharp objects on the plane.

 

Nail clippers are okay in carry on this side of the pond,  recommend they be in a manicure set, for easy removal, in case someone needs to see it.

 

TSA: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/nail-clippers

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Nail clippers in the carry-on, another set in an outside pocket of a checked bag.  Easy peasy.

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I don’t trust those zippers since the time I watched the baggage handlers loading the plane and someone’s bag popped open when they grabbed it. They put everything back and zipped it shut again.... but it had all dumped on the ground. A luggage strap around mine every time helps keep the bag shut and is one more step for potential thieves to think about. (Helps to ID my bag too)

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We do lock our luggage.  If someone wants to get in they will.  But if they have a choice of one without a lock or zip ties my take is that they might go with the one without it first.

 

Either way you can lock them and if there is an issue many airlines/airports note you will be called over as they check your luggage.

 

The only time we don't use locks is when we ship our luggage from outside the country back to the USA versus within the USA as the luggage shipping companies request we not lock them and the reason given is customs (not USA but outside the USA).

 

Like most things (well pretty much everything) we all have different approaches to whether or not a lock is necessary.

 

Keith

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I do want to add that two times I did use the zip ties.  In my case I used them for security reasons not as much to make it more difficult for someone to get into my luggage but to know if someone did get into my luggage.  First time was in Colombia back in the days of the Gorillas and business people being targeted.  In our case we were traveling in a company jet and while our luggage was not in site the flight crew wanted us to put the ties on it just in case someone tried to plant something in our luggage to take back to the USA including drugs.  If the tags were cut we would know that someone got into our luggage.  I think another time might have been when placing locks on the luggage was not an option.

 

Again both are good options but I've use the locks even traveling to and from Europe.

 

Just like your own home if someone wants to break in they can.  For example you can have security on your window so if they are opened the alarm goes off but if they pop your window out in most cases the alarm won't go off.  But that security sign outside your house might deter people from entering your home as those locks might deter someone from selecting your luggage.

 

Keith

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9 hours ago, Lazz said:

How do you cut the zip ties off when you get to your destination?  You can not carry any sharp objects on the plane.

I always have nail clippers in my carry on.

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I have always used assorted colored mini-zip ties, giving me a false sense of security of knowing if my luggage has been opened. When returning home from PHX to BOS, seems TSA or whoever does the luggage check behind the scenes, did open my suit case - found the notice inside when I opened the case at home - and they used the same mini-bright orange zip tie to re-secure the zipper! 

DH puts his nail clippers in the small outside pocket of his checked luggage - no problem cutting the tie.

 

Darcy

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I do zip ties sometimes.  But, the past couple of years, I've been using split-ring keychains to keep zippers together when I check a bag, including my golf bag.  My keychains have the colored climbing webbing sewn to them (easy to spot).  No issues anywhere in Europe or the Middle East of the USA with them.  

 

 

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SWMBO insists we use locks, so we use the TSA locks, with spares.  We also use bright colored luggage straps in case of blow outs.  Once in Taipei my stuff came out of the carousel in two bins, the locks on my hardsided case were compete failures.  Another time it looked like a luggage train ran over our suitcase based on the tire marks all over it :classic_dry:

Edited by Philob

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I wonder how the security guys get on with the bags that are wrapped in multi layers of cling film that people pay 10 euro for here in Europe.I think they have unwrapping competitions and take bets amongst themselves,lol.

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16 hours ago, brian1 said:

I wonder how the security guys get on with the bags that are wrapped in multi layers of cling film that people pay 10 euro for here in Europe.I think they have unwrapping competitions and take bets amongst themselves,lol.


The key is to pack NOTHING in the suitcase that will trigger a search.  So truly only clothing and canvas shoes (think Keds or Toms) and such.  No wires, bottles, even heavy shoes or boots.  No metal.

A friend of mine travels regularly to a country where pilfering luggage is almost a national sport and packs only clothing and flip flops and Toms in her suitcase and has it wrapped.  Everything else is in her carry on.  She hasn't had a problem since she began doing that.  

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We have switched to carry on.  Once in a while we do have to check a bag because of the aircraft.

 

In 45  plus years of business and personal air travel, lots of it in Europe and Asia, we never locked our checked bags nor have we ever had anything stolen from them.

Edited by iancal

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We usually do carry on only, but sometimes it's just not going to work when you are flying airlines with extremely rigid hand luggage weight restrictions.

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7 hours ago, iancal said:

We have switched to carry on.  Once in a while we do have to check a bag because of the aircraft.

 

In 45  plus years of business and personal air travel, lots of it in Europe and Asia, we never locked our checked bags nor have we ever had anything stolen from them.

 

Sometimes I'll check my carryon-size bag because I have a long connection time.  Just because it's a carry on, it doesn't mean that you must carry it on.   Many of my domestic flights require one flight on a "Barbie" jet where a purse will barely fit in the overhead.  That's where the split ring comes in handy.  If I don't need it, it just hangs on one of the zippers - if I need it, no biggie.  If I am carrying on my bag, I always "lock" it when going through TSA, then I'll "unlock" it - I do not trust them, especially when they take the bag outside of my field of vision.

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On our current trip we checked one of the carry ones on one flight. It was an equipment issue.  Small plane.  This happens infrequently.   Time before it was on a Panama-David flight.  Hardly enough room for us in the cabin let alone the carry on.

Edited by iancal

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On 10/16/2019 at 11:17 AM, ducklite said:

We usually do carry on only, but sometimes it's just not going to work when you are flying airlines with extremely rigid hand luggage weight restrictions.

 

Or if you have a shoulder (or other) injury that means you cannot lift a filled suitcase overhead without assistance.  While someone might be willing to help, it's best to not put yourself in a position where you require help.  As a frequent flyer friend has often said, "If you pack it, you rack it."  And if you can't physically do that, you check it.  🙂

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The title of this thread is misleading.  Hold luggage may be searched by the TSA on departure from the US to any destination, not specifically Europe. 

European customs authorities ( I cannot answer for other  continents) will search and open your luggage when you have collected your luggage and are passing through the arrival customs channel. The likelihood of your luggage being searched prior to you collecting it from the luggage carousel is miniscule.

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We use zip ties.  as someone said, you can tell if anyone was inside.  We put letter openers in the side pocket of the suitcase to cut the ties.i also use straps but the last three trips, they have not been on when we pick up our luggage -  starting to irritate me.

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Regardless of where we travel ... we use TSA locks and luggage straps.

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