Airline Question: OK to Lock Bike Case?

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6 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

I'm heading out West for vacation tomorrow. In the past I've taken my work bike with me in a cardboard box, but this year I'm taking my weekend bike in a real case.

My question is, can I padlock the case shut, or do they require that checked baggage be open-able by the screening people these days?

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)
No lock

When I traveled out of LGA in June, the TSA opened my bike box. I stood there and watched and they were really gentle. Although they did almost open the case upside down, so be sure to label top and bottom.

I had taped the latches closed with packing tape. After the inspection, they retaped the latches.

Instead of a padlock, use a zip tie (cable tie, plastic tie) They will cut it and replace it if they open the box. If you use a lock, they will cut the lock and then replace it with a zip tie.

Anonymous's picture
David Blume (not verified)
Yes, you can lock it...

"Purchase a ""TSA"" lock from any travel store or online - they are denoted by a special symbol that the TSA personnel will recognize. TSA personnel have a universal key to open these locks and they will open and reclose them when they inspect your luggage. Of course, I'm sure these keys are in the hands of non-TSA folks also, but I also believe it helps thwart the ""opportunistic"" thief. It also insures that your bag won't open when hurled 35 feet to the tarmac during unloading, which I also thinks happens sometimes...either that or they have sledgehammer ""back there"" to play with just for kicks.


Anonymous's picture
Sonny (not verified)
No Lock

On a recent trip to Spain, airport security at JFK opened my bike case without me. I had put a lock on the case and arrive in Barcelona and the lock is gone and a zip tie is in its place.

Don't bother with the lock.

Anonymous's picture
Brad Ensminger (not verified)
Check With Your Airline

On recent trip to Italy, Alitalia insisted that I not use a lock. They had me open my case and inspected it once I arrived in Italy.
I went through the same exact procedure the year before.

Just ask your airline.

Anonymous's picture
Rob (not verified)
As a Business Traveler

"Rule #1) Do no use ANY lock other than a TSA approved lock. It will be clipped.
Rule #2) The larger the lock the more they want to look inside.
Rule #3) Use Tape, wire ties or rope to ""keep your carton or bag closed.
Rule #4) If it really is of value, do not check it in as bagage
Rule #5) If you must ignore rule #4 do 2 things first. A) Take pics incase of damge/theft. B) Get a rider for your insurance or check if it is covered under your Home owners or business insurance.
Rule #6) If in doubt of anything above... Leave it home,
trust me ""You will be happier""


Anonymous's picture
Kim (not verified)

Earlier this year the TSA cut my TSA approved lock (they left their calling card in my luggage) on a soft-sided bag with clothes in it.

cycling trips