Home > Everything Else > SafeSkies TSA Master Key reverse engineered

SafeSkies TSA Master Key reverse engineered


Another of the seemingly secure “TSA” approved luggage locks has fallen to good old fashioned reverse engineering.

According to SafeSkies Locks writer Steve Ragan, the key and the story behind how it was reverse-engineered using a number of store purchased locks was disclosed at a lockpicking conference.

If you remember, in 2015 a large number of TSA master keys became available after a picture of them was shared online, leading to the lockpicking community demonstrating how easy it is to convert an image into a working key. Now you can find the 3D files online to print your own. 

These TSA locks if anything, give a false sense of security to the users – they can be bypassed simply by cutting them off, and a zipper can easily be opened with a ballpoint pen or screwdriver.

Worse, the presence of a TSA locked bag doesn’t mean no one has opened it.

Imagine a hypothetical conversation at customs:

“is this your bag?”
“yes, it’s my bag”
“Can you unlock and open it for me”

bag is opened and shown to contain contraband

“You said this was your bag, and it was locked, so you are responsible for the contents..”

various pain and suffering ensues. 

The fact that you have a TSA lock on your bag does not mean noone can open, and relock the bag. 

My solution to this dilemma is to dump the TSA lock entirely and use a selection of old-tech zip ties in various unique colors.


I simply put one or two between the zips and carry a few spare in my hand luggage. I use strange color ones just in case crafty thieves have the more typical black or white ones lying around.

If the zip tie isn’t attached when I collect my luggage from the belt, I know it’s been opened.

As to how to remove them at your destination? Simple – Nail clippers.

I don’t think having a completely secure bag is the objective when travelling – like the legend of the rabbit and fox, it’s enough not to be the least secure to encourage potential thieves to look elsewhere.


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