While there are many ways to secure luggage prior to a flight, the only way to guarantee a baggage lock won't be cut open during an inspection is by using a lock approved by the Transportation Security Administration. These locks keep your belongings safe while also following TSA rules and regulations. TSA locks are relatively easy to use, but resetting them requires knowing the current combination.

Why Use a TSA Lock?

Before your bag gets onto the actual airplane, it might pass through a few hands. The same can happen when you get off a plane and your bag goes to baggage claim. A TSA lock ultimately protects the contents of your bag from strangers but still allows TSA agents to do their job.

All bags go through screening before being placed on a flight, and some require a physical check, meaning opening the suitcase to examine its contents. With a TSA lock, an agent can open your bag and then relock it. TSA agents possess a master key to open up all TSA locks when necessary. If agents need to inspect luggage with locks other than TSA-approved locks, they will cut the locks open.

Why Would I Need to Reset My Lock?

You might need to reset your lock because it's your first time using it, so you need to change from the factory setting to your own personalized combination. Another reason might be the need to change the combination to protect your baggage from someone who knows the current combination but should no longer have access to the bag. Whatever the reason might be, it's not too difficult to set or reset a TSA lock.

How to Set/Reset a TSA Lock

  1. If it's the first time setting it, align all the numbers to 0, which is the factory setting. Otherwise, put in your current combination.
  2. Once the combination clicks, open the shackle and turn it to a 90-degree angle. Firmly press the shackle down.
  3. While continuing to firmly hold down the shackle, set the new combination by aligning the new numbers with the red line.
  4. Once the new combination is in position, release the shackle, firmly pull it up, then rotate it and push it down in the lock position. It should not lock since you've just set it to a new combination. 
  5. Turn one number while the shackle is in the lock position, which will lock it. Then put in the new combination to test it and see if the lock opens.

Don't forget your combination! TSA locks cannot be reset without the current combination or being at the factory setting.

What to Do If You've Forgotten Your Combination

Unfortunately, TSA locks cannot be reset without knowing the current combination. Otherwise, any person would be able to reset the lock. If you've forgotten your combination, though, there is a solution, but it takes a bit of time. Go through every combination until you unlock it. This sounds like a tedious task, but it should take only about 30 minutes. Start at 001, then 002, 003 and so on until it unlocks. If you can remember even just the first number of the combination, this process will take a lot less time.

If that proves unsuccessful, contact the manufacturer of the lock for help resetting it. Otherwise, you might need to buy a new TSA lock.

Why the TSA Might Check Your Bag

TSA agents might need to open your luggage for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is that they suspect the bag holds a prohibited item, such as an explosive. Sometimes, though, the TSA simply does random checks. But agents will always let you know if your bag will be or has been inspected.