In a classic TSA response, the TSA says that this is no big deal.
First, here is what they said in 2003 when they introduced them:
TSA official Ken Lauterstein described them as part of the agency’s efforts to develop “practical solutions that contribute toward our goal of providing world-class security and world-class customer service.”
Now, however the TSA says that the ability to create your own TSA master key does not threaten aviation security. That statement is probably true.
Then they say that these products are “peace of mind”, not part of security. Well they are half right. Those devices are not part of THEIR security. They should not be a part of anyone’s peace of mind, however.
Here is the real kicker, however:
In addition, the reported availability of keys to unauthorized persons causes no loss of physical security to bags while they are under TSA control.
So the fact that that copies of the TSA master key are out in the wild does not reduce security? Do ya want to explain that? The TSA does not bother to explain.
That being said, researchers being researchers, they asked whether the TSA keys been posted before and the answer is YES. Back in 2008, high res photos were published to 7 TSA master keys. That photo is still out there (see photo).
My suggestion – just use regular Master padlocks (the little ones are available on Amazon in a 4 pack for $8 and change). If the TSA decides that they need to break in at least you will know it and you will be out $2.
Information for this post came from the Intercept.