I first heard about TSA-approved padlocks a couple of days ago.
Apparently, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the entity responsible for screening checked luggage and inspecting baggage in the US. They've worked with lock manufacturers to design a special kind of padlock, which people now call TSA Approved Locks.
These locks all have a number inscribed on the bottom, which corresponds to a specific type of master key. The TSA has all the master keys and will use the correct one to safely unlock your bag in the event that they need to inspect your baggage. After completing the inspection, they will relock your bag and include a formal notice that your bag had been opened and inspected.
Without a TSA-approved lock, the lock on your bag would simply be clipped open and after inspection, your bag will be closed but now without a lock. If you're the type of traveller who likes to keep things locked, especially if you're travelling into the Philippines, then you'll want to use a TSA-approved lock.
As it turns out, it's not that easy to find these locks in Manila because they apparently sell quite well. A few hours of research have turned up these options:
- Victorinox. They're known more for their swiss army knives, but they also make TSA-approved locks. The only branch I know of is located at The Podium, on the second floor. It will be good to call first to check if they have any in stock.
- True Value. This chain of hardware stores carries TSA-approved locks with the Master brand. Again, call first to reserve because the locks are often out of stock. Shangri-La Mall branch: 635-0410 to 12
- Ace Hardware. Another chain of hardware stores, affiliated with the SM chain. Megamall branch: 633-1471, 633-1485
- Luggage Brands. Some luggage brands that sell travel accessories have also started carrying TSA-approved locks. Example: Samsonite.