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.