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.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.
Given the frequency with which I've seen this lock-out situation occur over the years, I had developed a new key service we were able to offer our neighbors: pre-cut Airstream entry door keys, made from the number on the key.
I called back to my office for an emergency shipment and received the key on Tuesday. Voila —problem solved.
We don't normally offer emergency shipping, so you need to have spares before you get locked out. We carry 200+ different codes of pre-cut door handle and deadbolt keys. They are in stock and ready to ship, so there is no need to find a locksmith to cut a key blank.
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.
On the 2021 20X Basecamp that I own 1 key opens both locks, so the security issue is monumental!
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?
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.
Excellent idea with the keys.
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.
With most tow vehicles having a keyless entry keypad I hide the third set (Hers, mine, ours) in my tow vehicle.
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!
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.
I have had this happen to me this summer in a 1994 Excella. Entry was achieved via the rear under the bed compartment. A locksmith was unable to open the front door. I had accidently left my extra keys at home. Leason learned!
We definitely accidentally got locked out of our Airstream one morning as we went to extend the awning. The wind gusted and slammed the door shut and we were locked out. (There was a huge “ blue cloud” over my head as my old soldier’s cussing vocabulary burst forth! My wife said that she had never heard some of the things I said…..and we’ve been married 40 years!). Luckily, she had left a window next to the dinette cracked open for ventilation, so, I lifted the window up, secured it in its full open position, and with a knife from our tow vehicle tools kit, I cut the screen enough to allow my wife to shinny through to get inside the trailer. I immediately ordered additional sets of keys AND two lockout preventers (one for installation and one foe spare). Now, regardless of reason, neither of us leave the trailer without the keys to Big Curtis.
As a post script, I got replacement screen material and spline and re-screened the window. Due to window and cabinet placement, I had to leave about four inches of original screen and spline at the top, and sewed the two pieces together and sealed the stitched seam with a strong adhesive. If one does not know, one would never be able to see the repair.