I've been traveling with my Birdy in a Samsonite Oyster case for quite some time now. We have both logged a lot of frequent flier miles. The places we've visited have included St. Louis, Philadelphia (multiple times), Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Calgary, San Diego (multiple times), Singapore, Boston and Cape Cod (multiple times). These are all business trips and having the bike helps keep me sane during my 50% travel schedule.
However, I have had a frustrating issue with keeping the case closed to keep the bike safe.
The latches on the Oyster case require locks to keep them securely closed. The two on the sides use a keyed lock, the one in the center uses a combination. If you don't lock them, then it just takes a bump onto the spring-loaded latch for it to open.
For those of you unfamiliar with the cases, here's a couple of pictures to illustrate (sorry I couldn't find better specific pictures of the latches themselves).
Unfortunately the locks are not TSA-approved, so I was leaving the side latches unlocked and using the combination lock in the center, with a note attached right next to the combination lock saying what the combination was in case someone needed to open it.
Over time one of the side latches has been knocked off the case. It had been bumped open, then bumped off.
TSA must have forced the combination at some point, because it no longer locks. They seem to inspect the case about every other trip.
So now I have two out of 3 latches left, either of them can open with a simple bump. The case is open on the left side.
I didn't feel this was secure so I got a non-locking, buckling strap and and placed it around the case to hold it shut.
This worked well for a bit, but the strap stretched out after a couple of uses and stopped holding the case shut securely.
I next tried with a non-locking ratcheting strap. This held the case better, but didn't last past a TSA inspection. I suspect they couldn't figure out the ratcheting mechanism so they just cut the strap off the case.
The last time I bought a strap with a combination lock that was TSA-approved. In addition to the combination, it had a keyed lock that matches TSA-standard keys so they could open it. It also had a little color coded symbol that would change from green to red when they opened it.
Two trips later my case was again inspected. This time I did get the strap back, the color had changed to red. However, the TSA-specific lock was also missing from the strap. They must have forced that lock even though they had a key.
Now I feel like I can't use the strap because when they want to open it I think they will just cut it and then I have to hope the case doesn't bounce open when they send it on. This means I feel like I can't take a bike on my trips right now.
Anybody have any suggestions for an alternate case?
Or some way to deal with how to keep one of these cases closed in a way that TSA won't destroy it?
I'm sure on some TSA forum somewhere, somebody is asking "Why do people keep putting these annoying straps around suitcases with bicycle parts in them?"