Make your own TSA universal luggage keys

The image above, published in 2014 in this Herald.net story and credited to The Washington Post, showed the keying patterns for all of the TSA-complaint "Travel Sentry" luggage locks.

I've redacted the version above. However, with an unredacted version, any halfway competent locksmith or locksport aficionado could make a full duplicate set. There are also software projects that can reproduce keys from photos that are much less clear than this one.

With such a key, you could undetectably open virtually all the luggage in the world that was manufactured in the past decade -- that's significantly different to a world where the keys aren't widely available, in which the locks could only be opened by someone who had a confederate in the TSA or another security service; or by someone who understood lockpicking; or by someone who didn't mind leaving behind evidence of the tampering.

The original Washington Post story does not presently have this image on it. However, all the other images on the Herald.net story came from that Post piece, suggesting that the Post may have removed it after publication. If anyone has a capture of the article or a print copy of the Post and can clear up the matter, please post to the comments.

The Reddit thread for this story contains a link to a much more clear image of the TSA master keys.

Notable Replies

  1. years ago, when a friend left his keys on the dash of a locked car, the locksmith made a copy manually by looking at the key...

  2. Good thing it's the FBI that wants master encryption keys because I'm sure they'd keep them sooooooper safe and never ever accidentally leak them like this.

  3. The only thing a TSA lock is good for is keeping the zipper from opening on its own initiative until they cut it off.

  4. xzzy says:

    Another justification for never flying unless there's a time sensitive situation and there's no other option.

    The entire industry is focused on dehumanizing everyone that uses it, for what? Getting somewhere else faster? Doesn't seem worth it.

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