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Samsonite Aeris suitcase

Carol had a nice Samsonite case.  It was an unusual blue, had her initials on it and a lilac ribbon tied on the handle.  This made it easy to spot when collecting luggage after a flight or cruise.  It had three clips that held it closed which gave Jane a problem in getting it open until I explained how they work.  You pull them out sideways then lift them up, like the closures on Tizer bottles or Kilner jars.  It also has a combination lock which we left in the unlocked position.

One day I found it wouldn't open, the combination dials must have got spun round by accident.  I tried the combination we always used for our suitcases, but it didn't work.  There are two possibilities for the code depending on which end you start from, I tried both.  I tried birthdays but couldn't find aything that worked.  It looked like I would have to try all 1000 combinations.  I tried a few, but then set it aside as a project for a rainy day.

I noticed that the lock had TSA007 written it so I Googled "TSA007 key" and bought one from Amazon.  What I got was a lock that you put through the eyes of the zippers to keep them together to try and prevent the case from being opened.  (Zipper cases are insecure and easy to open see Foot note).  However the key I bought was a different shape to the one my case needed and did not fit the Samsonite, so I was back to the 1000 combinations.

In sorting out the dressing table I came across the warranty card for the suitcase which had the model name on it, so I had another go on Google.  "Samsonite Aeris key" brought up a great variety of Samsonite keys of all different shapes and sizes so I was not confident that this route would yield a cheap solution.  However it did bring up a youtube video on How to open a Samsonite case if you have forgotten the code.  Inspired by this I thought I would have a go.  It didn't work out as he said, as he had a different type of case, but I opened it.  In case I forget, I am documenting how I did it.

This is the code in case I forget it (obscured for web).  It also shows that the numbers are in little windows and not on the thumb wheels like the video.  You can see the thumb wheels underneath.  You have to turn the suitcase on its side so that you are looking at the thumb wheels edge on and can see their axles to the side.  Instead of using my cellphone (I don't know how to use it as a torch) I used a magnifying glass and a bright desk lamp.  I found that with the case instead of looking for a dark hole I needed to look for a shiny reflection.  What is the same as the video is that as you turn the thumb wheel there is only position that is different to all the others.  This gives you the key to finding the code.  You need to find the key positions for all three digits in the code.  Once you have these apply the +5 or -5 rule to get the actual code you need.  (Basically you need the digits on the opposite side of the wheel.)  There is a second video How to open a combination lock which shows a different technique but they are essentially using the same method.  Notice that if you use the 5 rule with "979" you get "424".

At first I was stumped as my case was different to the one in the video but while I was fiddling about I tried what I thought was the code again and at first the case was still stuck.  I just couldn't push the tab in towards the case to open the clasp.  I had the case on my knee in front of me and while I was struggling with it, it suddenly opened.  At that point I realised you don't push the tab in but squeeze it towards the lock to release the catch.  It might have been my mistake all along.

Here, for amusement is another video on picking locks which I found very interesting.  How a yale lock works (and how they are picked).

Foot note.  Suitcases with zippers are not secure as this youtube video demonstrates.  How to Open zippered luggage bag.  The worrying thing is that you are legally resposible for the contents of your luggage even if they added something rather than take something out.  Carol's case is immune to the zipper trick but having a TA lock, or as this web page shows, it is still easily opened.  This next video shows how you can protect yourself from dishonest bagage handlers.  Defeat Dishonest Baggage Handlers.  His method is effective against opportunistic thieves, but can be defeated by bolt cutters.  My method is to not use airports.

5th January 2020

Copyright © 2004 - JG Weston, all rights reserved.

This document is http://sturnidae.com/Aeris.php.