I think different airports have different procedures. In Pittsburgh, they take your case at the tsa desk, in San Antonio they send it with the checked bags. At least that's the way I remember it. As far as the tsa approved locks go, I believe they have the right to cut any lock that isn't tsa approved where they have the ability to open the tsa approved locks. Don't quote me on any of that, but that's what I remember from my research the last time I flew.