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Why does Transport Canada propose to transfer the responsibility for cutting locks and seals on checked baggage from airlines to CATSA?

According to Statistics Canada, air passenger traffic in Canadian airports increased from 124 million in 2013 to 150 million in 2017. As the number of passengers continues to increase and the size of airports expands, it is becoming more difficult and time-consuming for airlines to cut locks or seals when CATSA needs to search a bag.

In addition, airline representatives have been cutting locks since before CATSA was created in 2002. The best solution is to update and transfer this responsibility to CATSA, Canada’s screening authority.

Will I be reimbursed for a lock that CATSA officials cut?

Screening officers are careful to not damage personal belongings. However, if your lock is cut for security reasons, CATSA will not reimburse you.

If you used plastic wrap to hold part of your bag together (for example, to fix a broken zipper), CATSA will make a reasonable effort to re-secure the bag with tape.

We strongly encourage you to use approved travel locks, which CATSA can open and re-close. For tips on buying approved locks, visit the CATSA website.

Where can I purchase approved travel locks and how much do they cost?

Look for approved baggage locks at travel stores, airports and online retailers. Before you buy a lock, always read the packaging to confirm airport security agencies can open it. You can purchase approved locks for under $10. For tips on buying approved locks, visit the CATSA website.

Will my baggage be re-secured after the lock or seal is cut?

CATSA doesn’t currently re-secure bags when locks are cut. However, if you use plastic wrap to maintain the structural integrity of your checked bag (for example, to fix a broken zipper), CATSA will make a reasonable effort to re-secure your bag with tape. 

When does CATSA need to cut a lock?

If CATSA’s x-ray equipment finds a concern during routine screening of checked baggage, CATSA is required to search inside the bag. Screening officers only need to cut locks they can’t open, in order to complete the screening.

What if items are missing from my baggage?

The only items that CATSA removes from a bag are those that are not permitted because they pose a safety/security risk to the Canadian aviation system.  

If a “Notification of Checked Baggage Inspection” card is in your bag and a non-permitted item was removed, follow the directions on the card for who to call. For information on lost or damaged items, you can also read about claims on CATSA’s website.

If there is no “Notification of Checked Baggage Inspection” card in your bag, a CATSA screening officer didn’t search it. In this situation, contact the airline that transported your baggage for more information.

What if the lock is built into my luggage?

Most luggage with locks built in are designed with approved travel locks that CATSA can open. However, if CATSA can’t open the lock, a screening officer will ask the airline for help to avoid damaging your luggage. The airline will try to locate you and get the combination or key needed to unlock your bag.

If your checked bag with a built-in lock can’t be opened, CATSA will leave it at the departure airport until you return.

What can I bring in my checked bag?

CATSA’s What can I bring? web page has a list ofitems you can pack in your carry-on or place in your checked baggage. This list includes permitted, non-permitted and prohibited items for flights originating in Canada. For flights originating outside Canada, check with your airline or travel agent for restrictions.