[With appologies, I ask you to read the update lower down on this page.]
One item I was glad to discover before travelling was the Safe Skies Lock. They make key locks and combination locks (both 3 dial and 4 dial combination locks). I love that the lock is a flexible cable and that it loops through my backpack/bag’s zipper well.
But what is extra great about these locks is that if the USA’s TSA “security” or security in Great Brittan or Israel and perhaps elsewhere wants to inspect your bag, instead of cutting the lock (thereby destroying it), they have a special key they use to open your lock properly. They can inspect your bag and you still have a lock.
My bag has not been inspected since I started using the lock but I know bags are subject to random inspection for real. When I flew to NYC for a visit before leaving the country, I didn’t lock my bag and I got to NYC to find a paper in my bag that said I had been inspected. Flying home, then flying to Mexico, I used the lock but didn’t find an inspection notice. I am not saying that using the lock stopped inspection; just that I know inspection of checked luggage is for real.
I also use this lock to lock my entire backpack in bus or hostel lockers. Or to lock my small valuables. I am really glad I have it for my travels!
NOTE: This story has two update stories:
April 2017 important update — I no longer endorse Safe Skies
While I still think well of this lock and enjoyed comfort and security using it, I had two communications with the owner and customer service man, both leaving me unable to endorse this lock any longer.
Bottom line: I was able to use and reply on this lock for more uses than most people would normally require a lock. I have no complaints about that. However, eventually, it did fail.
As a long-time beta tester and professional reviewer of hardware and software in the Macintosh and tech communities, I kept the lock, documented the failure and called I called Safe Skies to tell them the details of what caused the failure. They requested I send the lock back for inspection. I explained that I could not as I was in Israel, not the US. I also clearly explained that seeing the lock would not tell the story of the cause. I asked to tell the engineers. They were not interested in a 1-minute description of the situation that caused the failure — and could prevent others from suffering the same damage leaving them without a lock!
They were not interested in learning by phone when it broke.
They were not interested a year later when I stood face to face with them at a travel show. I asked the to let me tell them and they were not interested. When a company does not care about the durability or flaws, how-to or how-not-to stories or lessons of their product, I cannot endorse them.
When a company does not care about the durability or flaws, how-to or how-not-to stories or lessons of their product, I cannot endorse them.
I explained to them over 12 times that I did not want a free replacement and that I even bought a replacement when finally able to receive one. I repeatedly explained that I simply wanted to tell them my finding. They didn’t care.
Remember, a warranty and a free replacement is great — but a free replacement is of no help when you cannot arrange a place to receive it. When you a traveling, it’s quite difficult or even impossible to receive that free replacement. You need to choose products you can rely on and know the company who makes the products you travel with care.
My dilemma now is that if I warn you how to prevent the failure that will leave you without a lock, I am also leaving you a bit vulnerable. So I am only going to tell owners of this Safe Skies lock to never twist the cable. It took a solid year or more of use for it to fail, but that failure started with a twist. Always approach your lock from straight on to unlock it.
Alternative locks for travel
There are two other locks I am testing now that I believe I can recommend above Safe Skies. On is MasterLock’s combination cable lock which is lighter weight and works just as easily. Both of these companies have a serious history of developing security products.
- Master Lock’s combination cable lock which is lighter weight and works just as easily.
- Sesamee’s SearchAlert combination cable lock by CCL Security Products, which is even lighter weight and lets you know if the TSA has opened your lock! This lock is constructed differently. I just received it at The International Travel Goods Show April 7, 2017 so I will begin testing it now.
I will be sure to try to speak with people on these locks product development teams — but what matters most is that I know there actually are product development teams. Safe Skies, as it turns out, is a 2-man show and whatever company in China the owner pays to build the lock. Sadly, I fell for a PR pitch, and that PR company stopped representing and pitching Safe Skies after Safe Skies first year or so.