TSA has master key for some locks
My cousin went to Las Vegas recently with Vacations Hawaii. When she got there, she noticed her lock was cut and a note left in her suitcase from the TSA notifying her that the suitcase was searched. The lock she had on her suitcase was a Lewis N. Clark model No. TSA14 (www.lewisnclark.com/products
). It says on the packaging that these locks are accepted and recognized by the TSA and that they have a master key to open them without cutting the locks. Can you check with the TSA in Hawaii if they actually approve and have master keys for these locks?
Answer: The Transportation Security Administration recognizes two brands of locks: one called Travel Sentry (www.travelsentry.org) and the other, Safe Skies (www.safeskieslocks.com).
Travel Sentry's locks have a distinctive red diamond-shaped logo, while Safe Skies' locks have a torch logo.
On its Web site, Travel Sentry says its "Travel Sentry Certified" locks are available from many different luggage and accessory companies. The Lewis N. Clark lock is a Travel Sentry lock.
Safe Skies says its locks "will not be clipped. ... In the unlikely event that (the lock) ... is clipped, we will replace it free of charge." You can get more information on the TSA Web site -- www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial
/editorial_multi_image_with_table_0234.xml -- which says both vendors have an arrangement to supply TSA "accepted and recognized" locks.
TSA screeners are trained to recognize locks with either the Travel Sentry or Safe Skies logo and have keys for opening and relocking them, said Allen Willey, TSA's customer support manager at Honolulu Airport.
If a lock is damaged, passengers should contact the manufacturer for possible replacement, he said.
On its Web site, TSA says it will leave a clipped lock in the baggage, along with a "Notice of Inspection," and it "is not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes."
It also says locks, including TSA recognized locks, can be damaged by airport conveyor belt systems.
At www.tsaclaims.org/pics/locks_damaged.gif, it shows how locks can be drawn between two baggage conveyor belts, then ripped off by the force of movement.
TSA goes on to say, "Please understand that unseen forces besides TSA may have contributed to your lock missing or your baggage damaged in transit."
Willey also noted that there could be companies selling what they claim are TSA-recognized locks. But he emphasized that the only two brands are easily identifiable by their diamond and torch logos.
He also points passengers to the TSA's Web site -- www.tsa.gov -- which will have up-to-date information on TSA's policies and procedures regarding screening.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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