TSA-ap­proved lug­gage locks avail­able here

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - TRAVEL -

LOCKED lug­gage, SIM cards, and cross-bor­der flight sav­ings are the topics this week’s ques­tions.

QUES­TION: I un­der­stood TSA locks (Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion in the United States) are not rec­og­nized in Canada.

How­ever, I re­cently read that may have changed. Can you clar­ify?

AN­SWER: Af­ter 9/11 all coun­tries be­gan to more closely in­spect checked bags.

Those people who lock lug­gage to pre­vent theft found their locks gone as a re­sult of the TSA cut­ting them off to ac­cess the bags for in­spec­tion.

This cre­ated a high level of con­sumer frus­tra­tion as the fly­ing pub­lic felt their be­long­ings were placed at greater risk for theft en route.

Af­ter many pro­pos­als from lock man­u­fac­tur­ers the TSA agreed to im­ple­ment a newly in­vented lock that gave each TSA lo­ca­tion a se­ries of sep­a­rate ac­cess keys so they no longer had to de­stroy locks.

These locks were mar­keted un­der two brand iden­ti­ties, Travel Sen­try and Safe Skies. They quickly be­came the only locks trav­ellers would pur­chase.

Many be­lieved Canada also sub­scribed to this pro­gram and had pos­ses­sion of these unique ac­cess keys at their var­i­ous air­port lo­ca­tions.

It was not un­til re­cently, years af­ter they be­came the norm in Amer­ica that CATSA, our Cana­dian se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tion, agreed to im­ple­ment the same pro­gram in this coun­try.

This will bring com­fort to many who felt there was no rea­son to lock lug­gage if the locks were likely to be cut off.

Many have asked me if lock­ing lug­gage re­ally pro­vides pro­tec­tion.

It is true that pro­fes­sional thieves’ in­tent on get­ting into your bags can do so eas­ily with a sharp knife, or through zip­pers that can be eas­ily bro­ken. Most lug­gage theft takes place be­tween the time you check your bags and pick them up. This falls un­der the cat­e­gory of theft of op­por­tu­nity.

In other words, the eas­ier the ac­cess, the greater the temp­ta­tion. Locks cur­tail theft and they are cheap, so it can prove to be very in­ex­pen­sive in­sur­ance.

QUES­TION: You have writ­ten about a SIM card pro­gram in the United States that works well. But is there one that works as well in Europe and other coun­tries?

AN­SWER: Your ques­tion has be­come a very fre­quent one since I wrote of the suc­cess of the Roam Mo­bil­ity SIM card pro­gram in the U.S.

I have been look­ing for such an op­tion for quite some time and only re­cently found one.

The sup­plier gave me one to try, but since I had no plans to go over­seas I could not test it per­son­ally. So I gave the card to a woman who will be re­turn­ing to Canada very soon. I have asked her to test all of the func­tions from tex­ting, to phone calls in each di­rec­tion, as well as data us­age and ef­fec­tive­ness.

The prod­uct, called OneSimCard, is avail­able at a num­ber of out­lets. Notwith­stand­ing the in­for­ma­tion in the re­port I hope to soon re­ceive, one as­pect of the pro­gram I wish were dif­fer­ent is that all trans­ac­tions are in Amer­i­can cur­rency. Users will need to ac­cept that a time/data pur­chase that starts at $50, be­tween of­fi­cial ex­change and bank sur­charges that will rise by more than 10 per cent.

I like the free phone call op­tion to the SIM card-as­signed phone num­ber to any over­seas coun­try from Canada. Out­go­ing texts are only 15 cents, and there are rea­son­able rates for both re­turn calls and data pack­ages.

I will re­port on my un­of­fi­cial re­search as­sis­tant’s com­ments af­ter she re­turns.

For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­neystravel.com . Ron Prad­inuk is pres­i­dent of Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­perCen­tre and can be heard

Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found on www. jour­neystrav­el­gear.com or read Ron’s travel blog at www.that­trav­el­guy.ca

SAFE SKIES LOCKS / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

RON PRAD­INUK ASK JOUR­NEYS

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