TSA Agent Shows How Easily Anyone Can Open Your Locked Suitcase
You might want to invest in a different bag for your next trip.
Packing for a trip—no matter how short—is a process. You have to fit everything you'll need while you're away, and if you're checking a bag, you've got to also make sure it's under the airline's weight requirement. There's already plenty to worry about, but now, a Travel Safety Administration (TSA) agent is adding another concern to the list. In a video posted on TikTok, the agent demonstrates how easy it is for anyone to open your locked suitcase with a pen. Read on to find out how they recommend keeping your items secure.
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A pen can be used to open locked bags.
According to TSA guidelines, a TSA-compatible lock is a worthwhile investment. If your luggage needs to be inspected, these locks can be removed by TSA agents using one of several universal keys, and agents can then check contents and re-lock your suitcase. However, locks aren't entirely foolproof.
In 2020, TSA agents were banned from using TikTok for the agency's social media engagement, according to CNN. But on Dec. 26, 2022, user @geenaanac—who doesn't appear to be associated with the agency—posted a video of a man in a TSA uniform demonstrating just how simple it is to break into a locked suitcase.
"If you're ever traveling, make sure you guys are aware of how security systems in your bag can be breached," the agent says in the now viral video. "A lot of people I see travel with locks on their suitcases, special combinations, but with just a pen, you are actually able to breach a suitcase's security."
The agent is then shown running a pen back and forth along the bag's zipper, which easily separates to expose the interior.
The TSA agent recommends investing in a specific kind of suitcase.
The agent says this trick has been widely known for years. To keep pen-toting thieves away, you should invest in a bag that isn't as easily accessible.
According to Travel + Leisure, you can spring for a suitcase that has no zipper at all. Instead, these bags have latches that lock and unlock with a code or key—making them that much more difficult to break into.
TikTokers commented on the video to detail the zipper-less suitcases they use, with many suggesting options from Samsonite and Tumi, among other retailers.
There are other safety methods to consider.
In the comment section of the video, travelers said that there are alternatives to keeping luggage protected, namely wrapping your suitcase in plastic. TikTokers recommended a DIY method with Saran wrap, but there are also kiosks in the airport that can wrap your suitcase for you prior to check-in, Condé Nast Traveller points out. Not only is this an added layer of security, but it also protects your luggage from potential damage.
If your bag needs to be inspected, a TSA spokesperson told Condé Nast Traveller that they're not going to "re-wrap luggage," but agents "make every effort to cause minimal impact on luggage and its content by conducting targeted searches."
Some services will actually re-wrap for you post-inspection, however. According to its website, Secure Wrap is the only company authorized by TSA to re-wrap luggage in the U.S. As a bonus, these services also often offer tracking services in case your baggage is lost.
Travelers shared different opinions on the agent's warning.
The TikTok video, which was posted to @geenaanac's account twice, racked up a cumulative total of nearly 13.5 million views and roughly 629,000 likes—and commenters had a lot to say.
Some TikTokers weren't as alarmed by the TSA agent's warning, noting that they don't pack anything valuable in their checked luggage anyway. "I literally only have clothes in there—have fun," one TikToker wrote.
But others were quick to point out that the viral video could end up doing inadvertent harm by teaching thieves a new tactic. "Thanks for telling the thieves at the airports…SMH," one comment reads, while another says, "Now [the] whole world knows, thank you!"