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What To Do When Your Luggage Lock Won’t Open – Lost Secrets

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Most travelers use travel luggage with a built-in combination lock or a stand-alone padlock. But do you know what to do when your luggage lock won’t open?

I remember my daughter waited till the last minute to pack for one of our trips. Panic set in when the suitcase she had wouldn’t open, and all I heard was her yelling, “Mom my suitcase lock won’t open!” Trust me, you don’t want this to happen and be late for your flight.

We have traveled extensively and had our ups and downs with luggage locks. In light of this, I have done extensive research on why a TSA lock won’t open. I would love to share my findings with you.

What To Do When Your Luggage Lock Won’t Open

Let’s answer this question right out of the gate. First, it is important to figure out the reason, such as did you forget the combination, is the lock jammed, or is the lock old and has dirt or rust in it. We have full instructions for a number of scenarios below. I would love to put the solutions here, but the instructions are too long, so please read on to find the answer to your situation.

Are you a new traveler or a seasoned flyer? It doesn’t matter which one because, at some point, you may run into a situation where a suitcase lock jammed or a luggage combination lock won’t open. Not to worry because this post is perfect for your needs.

So, together, let’s explore why your TSA luggage lock won’t open and find all the lost secrets to fix the problem.

3 Reasons Why Your Luggage Lock Won’t Open

I am sure there are more than 3 reasons, but they are the ones you will encounter the most.

Forgotten Lock Combination

It can happen to anyone – forgetting the lock combination. And who can blame you if you fail to remember your 3-digit lock combination? There are too many PINs, passwords, and alpha-numeric combinations that you have to remember for everything. And since it’s not every day that you use your travel luggage, it’s easy to forget those three numbers.

Jammed Or Stuck Lock

You may know the 3-digit combination, but your built-in luggage lock seems jammed or stuck. You’re good to go if you know what to do when your luggage lock won’t open because of a jammed lock.

Lock With Debris

What if your luggage padlock key doesn’t work and my luggage lock won’t open because of some foreign particles in the shackle or the keyhole? Any idea on what to do when your luggage won’t open in this case?

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What To Do When Your Luggage Won’t Open: Secrets No More

The first thing to do is determine the type of lock you are dealing with. Then, you can try some of the troubleshooting tips below on what to do when your luggage lock won’t open.

TSA Locks: Forgotten Combination

Both the built-in luggage lock and stand-alone padlock have 3-digit combination lock settings. Unfortunately, forgetting these three numbers in the correct sequence can happen. Do you know what to do when your luggage won’t open because you forgot the 3-digit combination?

Built-in TSA Combination Lock Won’t Open

If your built-in luggage lock is TSA-approved and you forgot the 3-digit combination, try the tip below on what to do when your luggage lock won’t open:

  1. Locate the metal or plastic cylinder on the right side of the first dial.
  2. Turn the dial and use the safety pin to find an indentation or gap in the cylinder. Leave the dial at that number.
  3. Do the same for the other two dials.
  4. If the lock doesn’t open, turn all three dials one number down.
  5. Repeat the process if the lock still won’t open. Turn each dial one at a time, one number down, until the lock opens.

TSA Approved Padlock

Do you know what to do when your luggage lock won’t open if it’s a TSA padlock? You can try these steps:

  1. Push the button or pull the lock to put pressure on the locking mechanism.
  2. Next, slowly turn the first dial until you hear an audible click. Keep the dial set in that number.
  3. Do the same process for the other two dials.
  4. The lock will open when all the numbers on the three dials are correct.

Special Case: Lock In Open Position

What if you need help remembering the combination of your TSA padlock while it’s in the open position? Try this trick on what to do when your luggage won’t open.

  1. All three dials must be at the 0 position.
  2. Turn the shackle 90 degrees from the lock position.
  3. Press the shackle down and keep it down while you set your three-digit combination.
  4. Release the shackle and turn it back to the lock position.

For built-in combination locks, reset the lock by sliding the lock button toward the arrow. Then, set the new number combination and release the button.

3 Digit Combination Trials

Here’s what to do when your luggage lock won’t open if one of the three digits changes due to movement during the flight.

  1. Try using the combination, but change one number at a time. There are only 27 possible combinations. If this method doesn’t work, try the step below.
  2. Time to try the factory setting. Most locks are in the default setting at 000 or 999 positions. Turn the dials until they reach these combinations; you might be lucky.
  3. Try all possible combinations, from 001 until you reach 999. According to Travel Sentry (TSA lock makers), it only takes about half an hour to get to the 999 combinations.

Buy A TSA Padlock Key

TSA padlock keys have number indicators – from 001 to 007. You can buy these padlocks with corresponding lock keys. What to do when your luggage lock won’t open? First, check the padlock to see if there’s a number written right next to the combination. For example, for a 002 lock, buy a 002 key. However, these keys may not open every single type of lock but can open most locks.

Ask The Luggage Manufacturer

Some luggage manufacturers make locks that are virtually impossible to open, and for a good reason – to protect and secure the traveler’s belongings. The best tip on what to do when your luggage lock won’t open is to contact the manufacturer’s Customer Service hotline is best for assistance. Most high-end luggage manufacturers help and give instructions on what to do when your luggage lock won’t open.

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Non-TSA Jammed Locks

Do you know what to do when your luggage lock won’t open if you have a jammed lock? You got the 3-digit combination right, but your luggage lock won’t move. You can try these steps:

Wriggle The Luggage Combination Lock or Padlock

For some reason, your luggage lock got jammed due to vibrations on the airplane during the flight. You wonder what to do when your luggage lock won’t open in this case. Try to wriggle the luggage lock back and forth. If you’re lucky, it will only take a few times of jiggling to get the lock back to work again. Otherwise, you should try another what to do when your luggage lock won’t open method below.

Remove Debris From The Lock

Inspect your luggage lock closely to see if foreign particles have accidentally jammed the lock. Do you know what to do when your luggage lock won’t open because debris got in the way? First, try to remove the particle using a small brush, toothpick, or thin sharp object that can push the particle out. Or you can also use a can of compressed air to loosen the debris causing the lock to jam. Point the nozzle of the compressed air can at the keyhole and spray it a few times.

Shake, Tap, And Spray The Shackle In Open Position

For a jammed padlock, inspect the U-shaped metal piece called the shackle to see if it is in the open position. Then, try and gently push and pull the shackle until it moves. If what to do when your luggage lock won’t open trick doesn’t work, spray WD-40 or other lubricant sprays directly to the shackle. Move the shackle back and forth until it pops open.

Last Resort: Lock Replacement

If you’re unsuccessful with any of these, what to do when your luggage lock won’t open troubleshooting methods, luggage lock replacement is your last resort. You can contact the TSA lock manufacturer for a replacement if it’s a TSA combination lock or padlock. If it’s a non-TSA padlock, get the lock or luggage manufacturer for assistance in fixing or replacing the luggage lock.

Preventive Measures

Having a stuck or jammed luggage lock is inconvenient and troublesome, especially if none of the methods above work. However, you can do a few things to help prevent this from happening to you. This way, you won’t have to worry about knowing what to do when your luggage lock won’t open anymore.

  1. Because you use your luggage not too frequently, it’s essential that you properly maintain the luggage locks. Also, make sure that you keep your luggage dust-free when in storage.
  2. Your luggage padlock is one of many things with spare keys. Keep a bundle of spare keys for your travel luggage locks, and bring the spare key of the luggage lock you are using for your travel.
  3. Store your luggage lock combination on your phone so you can access it anytime and have the right 3-digit lock combination.
  4. Spend a bit more on high-quality and reliable luggage locks. What good is cheap luggage if you can’t open the lock when you use the luggage a couple of times? Expensive alternatives are better if they have luggage locks that carry a warranty.

FAQs About What To Do When Your Luggage Lock Won’t Open

We have gathered three frequently asked questions about what to do when your luggage lock won’t open.

Can airlines open locked luggage?

The airport security and not the airlines can open locked luggage suspected of having a prohibited item inside. Hence, make sure that your luggage has a built-in TSA-approved combination lock. This type of lock will allow TSA officers to open the luggage lock to check your bag without breaking it. The TSA will then re-lock your luggage and put an inspection tag inside to inform the owner that TSA checked the bag.

What is the most common TSA key?

The most common TSA keys in most suitcases are the TSA 007 and TSA 002. You can find other TSA key numbers, e.g., TSA 004 in CCL Presto Locks and TSA 005 in some high-end luggage locks like Samsonite and Lewis & Clark.

Do airports break luggage locks?

The TSA and luggage manufacturers worked together to create locks that only TSA can open with a master key. However, if your luggage lock is not TSA-approved, the TSA agents can break your luggage lock to open the suitcase for further inspection.

TSA lock jammed; what to do?

Suppose your TSA lock jams; try lubricating the lock with a silicone spray or graphite powder. You can try this method whether your TSA lock jammed open or closed. If that doesn’t work, consider contacting the manufacturer for further guidance or hiring a professional locksmith to help you unlock it safely.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs, and troubleshooting on TSA, here are some additional posts about TSA:

What To Do When Your Luggage Lock Won’t Open – Conclusion

While it is unfortunate, it can sometimes happen that your luggage lock won’t open for several reasons. Knowing what to do when your luggage lock won’t open will prove helpful when you find yourself in this situation.

It’s not time to panic. Instead, recall some of the troubleshooting methods listed here and use them to try and open your luggage lock. If you panic, you can’t get anything done. So, take a breath and try one method after another. If lucky, one of those what to do when your luggage lock won’t open tips will work.

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Laura Fuller

Hello, I am a luggage and travel fanatic. With a vast knowledge of TSA regulations, I am here to assist you on your journey. Please join me, and together, we will navigate the world of travel. From TSA and air to cruising the high seas, we will explore the best accessories and tips for smooth travel.

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