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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Locked Out Of Your Suitcase? How To Solve Your Luggage Lockout

by Ralph December 20, 2021

If you are locked out of your suitcase, there is no need to panic. This article will walk you through the many things you can do right now to solve your luggage lockout. You might find the process so easy that you’ll want to invest in better suitcase security.

Opening a locked suitcase can be done with one of the following:


How does the TSA open a locked suitcase?

The TSA are within their rights to cut the locks off of any piece of luggage they wish to inspect. If you are using a TSA approved lock, agents can use their override key to open your locked suitcase. If the suitcase has a zipper, they may simply puncture the zipper.

What is the fastest way to open a locked suitcase?

With a single jab of a pen the contents of most suitcases can be accessed through the opened zipper track. This is not possible if the zipper has puncture protection or the case uses hasps instead of a zipper. For higher security luggage lockouts, it is fastest to call a locksmith.

Can a locksmith open a locked suitcase?

When you are locked out of a suitcase that uses anti-theft precautions, calling a locksmith is a great option. The best lockout service for locked luggage may not overtly mention they open luggage. Many niche lockout types are too uncommon to advertise effectively.

How do I open a luggage lock?

Opening a luggage lock can be more complex than just getting the suitcase open. The luggage locks will either need to be decoded, picked, opened with an override key, or cut. Without the proper tools and training, this will not be possible for most people locked out of a suitcase.

What does it cost for a locksmith to open a suitcase?

When looking for locksmith prices relating to niche services, refer to the closest advertised service price. If you are locked out of a suitcase, you will be looking at lock services starting at $35 plus the service call fee for the locksmith to come to your location ($15).

Will opening my locked suitcase cause any damage?

If you are locked out of your suitcase, there is likely a way to open it that will not cause any damage. TSA approved luggage locks are meant to be easily removed, and if the lock is too secure, it can usually be cut without harming the suitcase. To reduce the chances of damage, call a locksmith for suitcase lockouts.

Open Your Locked Suitcase With A Pen

The TSA and other security agencies have been using the puncture method to open locked suitcase zippers for decades. If your suitcase does not have a zipper, this will not work. There are also puncture resistant zippers that are effectively immune to this.

The process of opening a locked suitcase with a pen is:

  1. Move the zippers to one side of the track.
  2. Pick any point along the length of the zipper track.
  3. Press the writing end of your pen between the teeth of the zipper.
  4. Apply pressure until the two sides of the zipper separate.
  5. Move the pen along the separated zipper to widen the opening.

When you are locked out of your suitcase, this is the simplest and fastest way to get back inside. However, puncturing does not open your lock, it will only open your locked luggage. This is an important distinction, as you cannot regain the full functionality of your suitcase until the lock is opened.

If you cannot open your padlock or combination lock, try one of the other methods detailed below. And if you are distributed by the lack of security of your current luggage, make sure to investigate some other portable travel security devices.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pens can open almost all suitcases with zippers.
  • Only puncture resistant zippers are immune to this method.
  • If the case uses hasps instead of a zipper, a pen will not open it.
  • This will open the suitcase but not the lock.

Decode Your Suitcase Combination Lock

You can decode combination wheel luggage locks in a few different ways. Which method will work for you depends on the type of lock your suitcase is using. Most, if not all, of these locks only provide the illusion of security and have simple methods for decoding.

If you lose the combination to your suitcase lock, very cheap suitcase locks will use combination wheels where the true gates are visible. You can use your eyes instead of touch to decode them. You can take a look at this video to see how to open a locked suitcase by sight.

The most universal and simplest decoding method is:

  1. Apply the tension to the lock as if you were opening it.
  2. Move the first wheel back and forth without changing the number.
  3. Rotate to the next number and repeat step 2.
  4. Repeat step 3 and 2 until you find a number that does not move like the others.
    1. Depending on the wheel’s construction there will either be increased or decreased tightness on one number.
  5. Leave the wheel on the number that moves differently.
  6. Repeat this process with the remaining combination wheels.

Cracking a suitcase combination in this way works with many different combination locks, you can use it to open a lock box without a key and even some padlocks. If you are locked out of your suitcase and this does not work, a locksmith should be able to help.

Key Takeaways:

  • Most suitcase 3 or 4 wheel combination locks can be decoded.
  • You can usually decode a lock from sight or touch.
  • If you cannot see or feel the true gates, a locksmith can decode the lock.

Open Your Locked Luggage Padlock

Being locked out of a suitcase that is using a padlock can be one of the more difficult luggage lockouts to solve yourself. If you have the tools to remove a broken padlock, that is the best DIY approach. Even if you only lost the key, removing a suitcase padlock yourself will likely require breaking the lock.

The best padlocks are going to be more difficult to open even with something as substantial as bolt cutters. However, most of the times you are locked out of a suitcase, you are not dealing with high-security devices. That means destroying the lock to open is almost always viable.

It is much more difficult to open a suitcase padlock yourself if you do not want to damage the lock. If you are locked out of a luggage and want to preserve the lock, you either need to know how to pick locks or have a specific bypass for that particular lock.

To find bypasses, use your search engine of choice and search “open [INSERT LOCK].” If there is a documented bypass it should be in the top results. And even if you can pick locks you will need professional lock picking tools or the ability to make improvised tools. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The easiest way to remove a padlock is to cut the shackle.
  • If you do not wish to break the device, you can pick or bypass the lock.
  • You can research if your suitcase lock has a documented bypass.
  • Locksmiths are usually needed to open padlocks, especially if they are high-security.

Open Your Locked Suitcase With A Locksmith

Most locksmiths who can assist with a home lockout can help if you are locked out of a suitcase. Luggage locks are often less complex versions of locks professional locksmiths work with on a daily basis. But even when suitcases use high-security locks, these are devices a locksmith knows how to open.

A locksmith can troubleshoot issues and figure out why a padlock won’t open or why wheels aren’t turning. If a fix is possible without replacement, a locksmith can save you the cost of new luggage or a new high-security luggage lock.

If you are locked out of Away luggage or similar higher end suitcases, you are going to want to avoid all unnecessary harm. For an Away or Samsonite luggage locked out, the lock is built into the case, so you need the deft hand of a locksmith to open it without anything breaking.

A reputable locksmith will avoid damaging your luggage in any way, but there are instances where opening the lock risks or requires unrepairable disassembly. Similar to opening a locked gun safe, damaging the lock in a way that opens the device also affects what it is attached to.

Key Takeaways:

  • Locksmiths that offer residential lockout services can open locked luggage.
  • A locksmith can diagnose and fix luggage locks that are not working properly.
  • Some locks cannot be fixed, and must be removed to open the case.

Closing Thoughts

If you are locked out of a suitcase with a broken lock, that is going to require some form of destructive entry such as prying, cutting, or drilling. In other instances this is when you need a new lock, but when the locks are built into the luggage, everything will need to be replaced.

Destructive entry is never used by a locksmith without the full consent and understanding of replacement needs, and it is extremely rare for luggage lockouts. In almost every circumstance a locksmith can get you back into your locked suitcase without doing anything extreme.

To request more information or for travel security tips, leave a comment below. And if you need help when you are locked out of a suitcase, see if there is United Locksmith near you. We are here to help 24/7.

Category: How To's, Lock Types, Travel Security

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