The TSA Took
My Luggage Security Away
“The message boards say that I should
duct tape my bags shut to keep people from stealing things.”
A client recently posed this situation to
me, and she was expressing a concern that we all have: How
secure is my checked luggage once it’s out of my hands?
I have personal experience with luggage
being lost and with locked bags being slit open…it’s a
terrible feeling. So what should you do? To get the full
story, I went to two sources. I contacted a friend at
Holloway Travel Outfitters, and I contacted a local
representative of the Transportation Security Administration
and here’s what I found out.
According to a Customer Support Assistant
in the Philadelphia office of The Transportation Security
Administration (TSA), they are required by law to screen all
property, including baggage that is loaded on board
commercial passenger aircraft. To ensure the security of the
traveling public, it is sometimes necessary for their
Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to conduct hand
inspections of checked bags. If it is determined that a bag
needs additional inspection, a TSO will open your bag and
search it, by hand. If you have a TSA-Approved Luggage
Lock, they’ll unlock it and search your belongings. The TSOs
receive training on how to properly inspect passenger bags
and are required to “exercise great care” during the
inspection, so that the contents of the bag aren’t affected.
If your bag has been opened, the TSO will place a Notice of
Inspection to let you know that your bag was searched, and
what to do if you have a complaint about the inspection.
The reality is that the TSA has a
relatively short relationship with your checked bag. Once
checked baggage has been screened and cleared, airlines are
responsible for transporting it to its final destination.
Then I spoke to Sarah at Holloway Travel
Outfitters. In her four years working at the shop and
helping people place orders by phone and on their website,
she offered her take on the situation.
“I talk to customers about packing and
luggage all day and I’ve only heard a few people say that
their belongings were taken out of their luggage. But we do
hear complaints of people spending up to $10.00 on a good
quality TSA Approved Lock, only to pick up their bags on the
other end with no lock on it. It seems that the TSO’s will
unlock a bag, search it by hand, and then either put the
lock back on without re-locking it, or just leave it off
entirely. So there is no way to guarantee that your bag will
be re-locked after it is inspected.”
I am of the thought that taping bags shut
with duct tape is more of a sign that there is something
inside that bag that needs to be looked at. The duct tape
says “Hey! Look at me! I’m full of valuable and/or illegal
So what’s the best approach?
This is why I promote the carry-on
approach to travel. Holloway Travel Outfitters offer classes
and online videos on how to pack for trips of up to two
months with just a carry-on sized bag.
If you’re going on a trip that is just
too long to use a carry-on bag, be sure to put on ALL your
valuables (you shouldn’t really be traveling with valuables
anyway) and your medications in your carry-on bag, and just
check your clothing. It also makes valuable sense to have
trip insurance that covers lost and/or damaged luggage. Just
be sure to leave room to bring back lots of souvenirs!
Alexis Armstrong, Destination Specialist
World Travel Specialists
Office - 866-280-1938 x743
Cell - 267-760-1103
The world is a book. Those who do not
travel read only a page. - St. Augustine