The solution to getting locked out of your Airstream

One day in the campground we returned from lunch to discover a shiny new Airstream parked in the site next to us. Turns out it was a father and daughter on the first leg of a trip to relocate their 2020 Airstream Globetrotter 25FB from Rhode Island to Manitoba.

The daughter came over to ask for help. The refrigerator wouldn't come on, she said, and they didn't know why. I went over to investigate, and that's when I discovered that the entry door was locked—and the keys were inside.

I've ranted about the need for having spare keys before, precisely because of this situation. Our poor neighbors had left their only set inside the trailer, slammed the door shut, and it locked itself.

Yeah, that happens. Sometimes the door handle lock spontaneously slips into the locked position from the force of the slam. If you don't have a spare key it is "Game Over" at that point.

For most trailers there's no other way in, unless you're willing to break something expensive like the skylight. (With the frequent rains that happen in Vermont during the summer, that would have been an idea worse than the problem.)

We called a mobile locksmith for our distraught neighbors, but after an hour of trying, he couldn't get the door open. Because Airstream dealers don't stock spare keys, the local dealership couldn't help. And the owners certainly didn't want to break anything on their shiny new trailer to bust in.

At this point it was hot and humid, everyone was feeling frustrated, and the only thing left to do was to find a local hotel for the next two nights. Fortunately, most of their belongings were in the truck rather than the Airstream.

What would you have done?

 

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Given the frequency with which I've seen this lock-out situation occur over the years, I've been working on a new service, which we were able to offer our neighbors: custom-made Airstream door keys made from the key number. This service doesn't require an original key to create a copy.

This was a golden opportunity to prove how the service would work, so I rush-ordered a new key for our neighbors using the number printed on their lock (see red circle in the photo above).

We received the key on Tuesday via FedEx. Voila —problem solved. I also ordered a pair of blanks for our new friends so they could get extra copies made.

We're offering this service to Airstreamers through our store now. You can order online and get a spare set of keys that are ready to use. This is different from buying key blanks, because you don't need the original key to copy and you don't need to find a locksmith.

I recommend everyone have at least three sets of the entry door keys. Each person in the Airstream should have their own set, plus another set that is kept somewhere outside the Airstream for emergencies. To get a spare set of the two entry door keys (door handle and deadbolt) all you need are the numbers that are engraved on the original keys.

By the way, if you're thinking that our service enables easy theft of Airstreams because the door handle code is printed right on the outside where anyone can see it, don't worry. Only the door handle lock has the key code printed on it. The deadbolt doesn't, so when you really want to secure the Airstream you should use the deadbolt as well. Just be sure you have both spare keys available somewhere outside the Airstream, in case you lose your primary set.

8 comments

David Gentry

David Gentry

On the 2021 20X Basecamp that I own 1 key opens both locks, so the security issue is monumental!

ROBBIE WIGLEY

ROBBIE WIGLEY

We have a third set of keys in a locking box that realtors use for house showings. We hang it inside the propane cover. We use the dead bolt lock instead of the regular door lock because of the possibility of it locking itself….. is this a bad idea?

Edgar Brannon

Edgar Brannon

This happened to me in Missoula Montana on a SUNDAY. I found local locksmith who was able to pick the lock. Cost me over $150 for the service. I went to his shop on Monday and, believe it or not, they had blanks that worked.

I now have a set of door keys hidden outside the trailer. Fortunately, good weather and well stocked and capable locksmith.

Larry Cann

Larry Cann

Excellent idea with the keys.

Rich Luhr

Rich Luhr

Robbie — it’s fine to use only the deadbolt, but it doesn’t eliminate the chance that the door will lock itself. The force of the door slamming shut is what causes that lock to engage spontaneously, so you still need to have spare keys handy.

The locking box is probably fine for protection against a casual thief/vandal. If not using a locking box, I would look for a more secretive location for the keys than inside the propane tank cover. With a magnetic Hide-a-Key box the keys can be put in various places under the Airstream that are harder for a would-be thief to locate.

Darryl Nester

Darryl Nester

With most tow vehicles having a keyless entry keypad I hide the third set (Hers, mine, ours) in my tow vehicle.

Gary Broyles

Gary Broyles

I have four sets, including one that is in a combination realtor’s box mounted to the front of the battery box. Better safe than sorry!

Vicki Gordon

Vicki Gordon

Our door slammed shut and locked just as we pulled up at midnight to boondock on way to Fla. We have a 2006 Classic Airstream and my husband was able to open the rear storage door, pull everything out and push up and under the bed and climb in that way. Now we have a spare in truck and in magnetic box under Airstream.

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