Northwest Airlines Sucks

Iceland February 2001
Iceland February 2001, here I am standing in front of the Pearl wearing the new shell I purchased at the Mall of America during a layover. Thanks Northwest for breaking and loosing my gear.


Northwest Airlines
Department C5260
5101 Northwest Drive
St. Paul MN 55111-3034
Phone (800) 648-4897

I must commend Northwest on the most excellent handling of my duffel bag on a recent trip to Iceland via Minneapolis from San Diego.

I discovered my opened “damaged” duffel bag upon picking it up at the luggage claim at the Minneapolis airport. Somehow, someone or something completely broke off the steel shackle which had a hefty 4 digit combination lock attached on the top opening of a military duffel bag entrusted to Northwest on a flight from San Diego to Minneapolis.

At the time (this past February) I was on my way to Iceland (where it happens to be just a bit colder than my home town of San Diego). Since the bag and it contents were open and unsecured, I thought it imperative to take decisive action.

It would have been nice if I could have used the luggage repair service that a Northwest representative told me about, located in the Twin Cities airport. But, it seems no one was there at the time of my layover (several calls were made from the lost luggage desk). Since Iceland is not a place to be without proper gear and since Northwest baggage repair services seemed to be AWOL during my layover, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a “no pressure trip” to the Mall of America.

To be able to lock my gear in my duffel bag, I purchase a new lock at Sears. It was a simple matter to take my knife and punch a hole through the material backing one the steel eyelets (where the steel shackle was once attached) on my duffel bag. The lock was not as nice as the one that I originally had and keeping track of the key was a pain in the tush, but the Sears didn’t have much of a selection.

To be protected from the balmy weather in Iceland, I managed to find a basic shell that fit my frame in the Mall of America at Oshmans. The shell I purchased during my “leisurely” shopping scavenger hunt was functional, however; it would have been nice to find a Northface store so I could have bought a shell with a better feature set, to go with my Northface winter pants that survived the Northwest baggage system.

Enclosed you will find my “Personal Property Questionnaire and Proof of Loss” with my estimates on the missing or damaged property. Since I keep old clothing receipts as well as Northwest keeps track of my luggage, please make do with the following:

A Gore-Tex Northface shell (they have an outlet just up the coast) where it is possible to find a $400 shell on sale for about $200.

Gore-Tex snowboarding gloves (heck if I know the brand) on sale at Sport Chalet (about $45).

A supposedly rugged military style duffle bag (about $20). The bag could have been made by the same slave labor that Nike uses (but I don’t have proof). This item was not purchased on sale, but since it was only $20 at G.I. Joes, (a military surplus store) I didn’t think twice about buying a non sale item.

As for the fleece mask, it was just one of those poly-prop no name brand things I purchased at the G.I. Joes for $10 bucks.

And last but not least I had a really beefy 4 digit combination lock, that allows a user to set their own combo (it may have been a Master lock, I don’t know for sure because it was lost). FYI it is possible to find a lock like the one I lost at Grah Lock here in San Diego for about $20 dollars.

If you care to send a representative in a limo with $295 cash, I’d be glad to show them places in San Diego where I can buy the items listed above.



P.S. Has Northwest ever considered a sideline business of luggage durability testing and tracking for Underwriters Laboratories Inc? I would highly recommend Northwest for such a job because it is the first airline I have encountered that has managed to break, let alone loose any of my baggage.


For those interested to the conclusion of my Northwest saga, well they send me a pretty boring letter which said:

April 24, 2001

We are sorry to advise you that our efforts to locate your property have not been successful

Enclosed is our check for $304.04 to reimburse you for the missing property and lock.

We appreciate you as our customer and hope you will continue to include Northwest in your travel plans


Rhonda Farmer
Supervisor, Luggage Service

Although it would have been nice if they did send someone to my door with $295 in cash and a limo, I guess that was just a bit much to ask for. And to answer your question, no I do not know why they sent me more that I asked for (it might be the non-stated but quite real MN sales tax - the attached check did not say).

BTW here is one travel tip, if you go to Iceland take the Visa but don’t take the American Express Card (cause it is fine for shells and locks at the mall of America, but useless in most parts of Iceland) ... hey do you think I should try and sell that idea to Visa so they can turn it into a TV ad?


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