Friday, January 25, 2008



What Really Happened

As most of you all know by now, it is VERBOTEN to lock your luggage when traveling inside the United States. The Transportation Safety Administration hath decreed it so. Never mind that airport baggage looting is so common that London's Heathrow Airport is called "Thief row" by experienced travelers, and never mind that TSA's own airport workers have been caught stealing items from unlocked luggage. We have to fight Osama, and your new iPod 80G is a small price to pay to be safe from terror in the skies!

Actually, we're not any safer. Recent tests have revealed that half of the practice bombs sent through the TSA security at airports actually get to the airplanes, and a study by Harvard Business School concluded that all the groping and harassment and lost iPods (and smashed laptops) don't actually make us any safer. But TSA continues to grope us (at taxpayer and traveler expense) on the theory that We The People at least FEEL safer. To be honest, I don't feel safer; I am just pissed off.

But I digress.

In response to complaints by travelers who understandably don't want their luggage open to everyone who handles it at the airport, the TSA has graciously allowed us to use certain locks, designed to allow the TSA into your baggage, but supposedly protecting your property from everyone else.

A photograph of one such lock appears above. I bought it about a week ago in anticipation of a trip I will be taking shortly. I chose a combination lock because if you have the keys to your luggage locks in your pocket when you go through the security gate the alarm goes off and the TSA supervisors wake up cranky. In the process of setting the combination, the portion indicated by the arrow fell off in my hands. The lock was not dropped, hit, or otherwise mishandled. The metal piece from the gap where the arrow points just came off.

Now, I know a bit about locks from my days as a professional magician, and being able to see the mechanism I realized that this lock is really worthless. I had my wife take one of the still intact versions and set a random combination. Simply by pulling on the shackle I was able to "feel" the correct combination in about 45 seconds.

So, like the whole TSA itself, the TSA approved locks don't actually make you any safer. The locks are easy to open by crooks who know locks, or if they don't, a hammer or screwdriver becomes the universal key. I haven't see such crappy locks since a major retail chain sold front door lock sets with PLASTIC cylinders.

We have become a nation where we are sold security, at high prices, but remain insecure. If anything, we are more vulnerable than ever before, because we allow the government to tell us what locks we may use on our luggage, and the government approves locks that are both flimsy and easy to open without the keys/combinations.

Thanks a lot, TSA. Wonderful job you guys do.

1 comment:

  1. Next time, buy a quality lock......don't you know that you get what you pay for, and that model lock is about as cheap as they come. If the items in your luggage are no more worth protecting than what the blogger obviously paid for this piece of chinese junk, then why bother protecting it at all?