Skyway Suitcase Cracked…

Update: To view a video on how a skyway suitcase opens (the lever is kind of tricky), please visit our follow-up post here.

Seeing things go into the garbage kind of makes me sick to my stomach. Often it’s a necessity, but when something has a glimmer of value, invariably I end up taking it home in an attempt to fix it up and find it a better home. While at a garage sale earlier this year I spotted this Skyway suitcase in the back of a garage, covered with dog hair. It was free. This should have been a warning to me. The girl said she bought it at an auction and couldn’t remember the code to unlock it, but it was somewhere in the 300s or 400s; and most importantly the inside was really cool.

Skyway Suitcase

Skyway Pom Pom.

Who could resist this adorable little pom pom on the side?

Speed up to a month later and I’ve tried every number in the 300s through 400s three times, and ALL of the combinations three times. I thought about throwing it away, but every time I looked at that little zipper it softened my heart a bit. I watched video after video trying all sorts of shenanigans to open it up.

Speed up to last week, nearly three months after the she-devil gave me her demon-spawned child, when my husband said, “Are you going to do something with this?” Granted it was in our living room, blocking an end table and gathering cat hair. I called around to a local locksmith who referred me to a locksmith who had the tools to hopefully fix it.

Thanks Midwest Lock and Security (no, this isn’t an ad for them, they went above and beyond the call of vintage duty), but despite all of their hard efforts the only thing that could open my broken suitcase was a hammer and screwdriver. Not the end anyone was looking forward to.

Skyway Tools Needed.

Tools needed: rubber mallet and a screwdriver. Execute one forceful blow to the lock to crack it open.

But the inside is in mint condition and is complete with an adorable label. No treasures inside.

Skyway Suitcase Inside

Skyway Label

Moral of the story: some things are free for a reason. What things have you brought home to rescue and ended up burning it in your driveway out of frustration? Don’t worry: the suitcase is still in my living room. For now.

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26 Comments

  1. Winnie
    Posted July 4, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    I have this exact problem. When you cracked it open, did you force the locking hook part up? And does it close now or is the suitcase perpetually open because of the broken lock? It would be great if you could get back to me!

    • Angela
      Posted July 4, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Hi Winnie! I’m not sure which way the lock hook went, I think it shifted to the right. The middle lock is always open, or closed and locked and I have to hit it with a hammer again. Although I don’t mind the middle lock is open since there’s two locks on the sides that stayed closed as well. Have you opened it before? Once it was cracked open I noticed you not only have to have the right combination, but slide the middle to the right and then push the top part up, so it’s really a two part process. I didn’t know this and thought just the top section needed pushed up, and wondered if I knew I had to do two things if maybe it wouldn’t have opened without a problem. Do you know the combination and could try it?

  2. Winnie
    Posted July 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Angela, I don’t have the combination. I saw it at a goodwill and thought it was too cute to pass up. I’ve tried all the numbers once, and there’s a little screw on the side of the lock that I can half turn, so I’ll try the numbers again. Now that you mention that it slides to the right, I’ll try pushing to the right when im going though the numbers again. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around the lock mechanism! I keep finding ways to hack locks on YouTube and online, but I don’t know if they’ll work this suitcase.

    • Angela
      Posted July 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Oh my goodness this sounds exactly like what I did! I couldn’t leave it there. The inside was so cute, so even if you have to break the lock at the end you still might be happy with it. I watched all the videos on YouTube, and when I went to that locksmith he kind of laughed :) I couldn’t get any of those cracking methods to work. I hope going through the numbers works for you. Let me know if you get a chance!

  3. Allyn
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Funny enough, I am going through the exact same thing. I dont quite understand how the lock would open properly if I had the combination. I went through all of the numbers once. No luck. It slides to the right? I am not sure how that works? I might try going through it one more time sliding the button to the right before lifting it.

    • Winnie
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      If you want, I can try to upload a youtube video or some photos online showing how the lock opens. I think if I had a video to look at, I wouldn’t have needed to jimmy my lock. I couldn’t figure it out, so I ended up having to take a screwdriver to mine. :( Basically, there is a sliding mechanism underneath the lock part that moves once the lock combo is correct. The top, curved part of the lock won’t pop open without sliding the bottom of the lock open.

      • Angela
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        Winnie, you said that way more eloquently than I did. Yes, if you have a video see if you can upload it to the comments section. If not I can create a new post and link it in there. So glad you got yours open!! :) I’m afraid if I knew how it worked before I took it to the lock place I could have saved it from the hammer. Oh well…I try not to think about it.

        • Allyn
          Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

          That would be great if you could post a video of it opening. i have been busy this week. sorry for the late reply. thank you for your replies though.

  4. Winnie
    Posted August 10, 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    I have the video but I don’t have a YouTube account. I’m out of town right now so I can get it online in 2 weeks or I can send the video to someone to upload?

  5. cindy b
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    hi, your discussion of the suit case intrigues me. i to have a skyway suitcase (blue tweed) that i cant get open. it is from my 92 yo godmother who cant remember the combination either. there definitely is something inside it and i wanted to open it without breaking the locks, but alas i might have too. have you posted the video yet on how it opens.

    • Angela
      Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      Hi Cindy! I am posting the video on Monday. We’ve been out on a vacation but will have it up first thing. Hold off till then :)

      • Angela
        Posted August 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        Hello everyone! We now have a video up on just how the lock mechanism works. Check it out here. Thank you to our reader Winnie!

        • cindy b
          Posted August 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          thank you, that was awesome.

          • Angela
            Posted August 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            You’re welcome! Let me know if you get yours open :)

  6. Allyn
    Posted September 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much. With the video, I got mine open rather quickly. The combo was 530. Mine is beige inside and has two divider bags. 😀

    • cindy b
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Eureka, i got mine open too. once i knew how it opened using your video i was able to tumble the rollers and voila it opened. my code was 220 and it opened without a hitch. lovely inside and hardly used. my daughter will love having a vintage suitcase from her great auntie.

      thanks for your help.
      cindy b

      • Angela
        Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        Oh wow, I would love a suitcase from my great auntie. No problem, we’re happy to help! I think we’re up to three Skyway suitcases saved :)

    • Angela
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Yay! Glad it helped :)

  7. Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    So helpful, thank you! I found one on the side of the road but accidentally closed it and couldn’t figure out how to get it open. Will still have to go through all the combinations since I forgot where it was when I found it, but at least now I know how it’s supposed to open.

    • Angela
      Posted December 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jonathan! So glad this helped you. I wish I had the video explanation before I took a hammer to it. Best of luck on finding the combo!

  8. Posted November 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Just thought you’d like to know this post (and the video on the linked post) is still helpful. I bought a matching set of three turquoise Skyway cases with key, but no one at the shop could figure out how they opened. My husband accidentally figured it out once upon a time, but by now we both forgot how these locks worked. Thanks!
    Side note: my cases supposedly belonged to a person who used to travel to beauty pageants with them. One of the cases had a bunch of sewing items and costume bits and pieces in it, so it could be true!

    • Angela
      Posted November 20, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tess! Yay I am so glad it helped you and your suitcases! We are saving Skyways one luggage set at a time :) What a neat story behind yours. It’s always so fun to find the history inside. Thank you so much for sharing, it was a much-needed pick-me-up. Take care!

  9. Posted November 25, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I saw one video that showed using a thin card and by using the corner, feeling where a notch would be.I tried it with a thin plastic piece cut to a point and I could feel something and I thought I had it but I couldn’t get it, BUT, I was able to crack it by using one of those head magnifiers with a light and looking down to the right of the wheel and down the thin crack. I spun the wheel and I saw a flat spot on the shaft! so I wrote that number down and I repeated the process for the other two and I had a set of 3 numbers. Then I spun the numbers by adding 1 to each of those 3 and tried it (ie 111 222 333 ….). Well, on the 6th try, it worked! (well, maybe 5). Anyway, it is doable without destroying the lock.

    • Angela
      Posted November 30, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Wow, Hugo! That’s impressive. So glad you got yours open, and next time I will try your method.

  10. S m
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Bought two pieces of Skyway at a garage sale. Several keys came with them. Keys say “Presto 2133”. Luggage has key lock only, no combination. We cannot get these suitcases open! Beginning to think we got the wrong keys. Is there a trick to using keys.

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