TSA: Lock This Way
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Q. I'm based in Europe but make several annual trips to the United States. Last trip over, I bought a couple of TSA-approved padlocks. But we just returned from Rome to find that the locks had been snipped off -- along with most of the zipper pull. Leaving bags unlocked seems an open invitation to any baggage handler with a little spare time, but locking invites the security people to "make their day." What is best today? Twist ties?
Scott Lewis, Kiev, Ukraine
A. Transportation Security Administration-approved locks sound great because they can be opened by security officers with universal master keys, but we occasionally hear from readers whose locks were cut off by screeners and their suitcases damaged. It seems safer (at least, easier on the suitcase) not to use locks at all. Of course, this means you can't pack any valuables or irreplaceable items in your checked luggage (no cameras, laptops, expensive jewelry, medication, etc.), but you shouldn't be doing that anyway.
TSA spokeswoman Sterling Payne says that if you do use a lock, "we absolutely recommend using a TSA-recognized one. The officers are very aware of which locks are recognized and which are not." She says that if the TSA has searched a bag, the agent will leave a note on it. If your luggage was damaged during screening, you can file a claim at the agency's Web site, http:/
My husband and I are going on an escorted trip to London and Paris, but many lunches and dinners are not included. In London we will be staying in the West End, and in Paris on the Rue Scribe. Can you recommend any inexpensive bistros or cafes in those areas?
Barbara Adler, Chevy Chase
There are great deals right now at top restaurants in London's West End, says Paul Chibeba of Visit Britain, the country's tourism office ( http:/
· The Michelin-starred Arbutus (63-64 Frith St., http:/
· Christopher's American Bar and Grill (18 Wellington St., Covent Garden, http:/
· Masala Zone (48 Floral St., Covent Garden, http:/
· Wahaca (66 Chandos Pl., Covent Garden, http:/
In Paris, Katherine I. Johnstone of the French Government Tourist Office ( http:/
· Chartier (7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, http:/
· Le Jardinier (5 Rue Richer, http:/
· Domaine de Lintillac (10 Rue Saint Augustin, http:/
Send queries by e-mail (email@example.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.