Sometimes you think you've lucked out in the travel department, only to have things Take A Turn.
When I flew home from Minneapolis two weeks ago, everything was going great. The long check-in line moved quickly and efficiently, the long line through security moved quickly and efficiently, and I didn't have to wait very long to board the plane. I had an aisle seat, close to the front. The flight was uneventful. I snacked on a two-dollar can of Pringles and a full can of ginger ale. I didn't have to wait in line for the bathroom. I even watched an episode of Robin Hood on my laptop's DVD player.
Joe was waiting for me with open arms and we made our way to baggage claim, where the bags were already appearing. I spied my bag immediately and off we went.
I thought the garage was smelling kind of funky, like someone had spilled fuel in it. On the way home, though, the gasoline odor got stronger. In fact, it was so strong that Joe checked for leaks under the car on the way home, but there was nothing.
When I pulled my suitcase out of the car, I realized that it was the bag that was reeking of fuel. Whether it was jet fuel or gasoline, I have no idea. Luckily, my clothes had only a trace of smelliness, which was quickly solved by washing them. Most of them were dirty anyway, so no big deal.
But the suitcase -- my one large suitcase, my favorite suitcase, my expensive suitecase -- was another story. We put it outside to let the wind and the sun blow the stink off it. After two days it stil stank up the joint. We left it out in the rain. Stil odoriferous.
I wrote the following email to Northwest Airlines:
This note really is both a compliment and complaint.
It's a compliment because my flight experience was just fine, from
check-in, where the long lines moved quickly and efficiently, to the
boarding process, to the flight itself, which left on time.
The complaint? When I retrieved my bag in Baltimore, it stank of jet
fuel, so strongly that I thought the car was leaking gasoline. The smell
was so strong that it permeated the clothes inside - thank goodness I
was arriving, where I could immediately wash them all! I put my suitcase
outside, hoping that the smell would dissipate, but even after two days
and a rain shower, it stills reeks.
I have no idea how this could have happened, whether the refueling team
accidently sprayed the luggage cart or the baggage handlers happened to
put my suitcase in a pool of fuel or what, but I doubt that I'll be able
to use this suitcase ever again.
I travel frequently, and this is the first time something like this has
I hope it's the only time it occurs.
I suppose I should have known better than to expect anything more than the following response, which I received a week later:
RE: Case Number 3855868
In your email, you shared your feedback regarding Northwest Airlines.
On behalf of Northwest Airlines, we regret any difficulties you endured
with your checked luggage and am glad to hear that your travel went
Ms. Wise, I am truly sorry that your checked luggage reeks of fuel. I
myself am not able to explain why this has happened, nor am I able to
find any information regarding an incident in our flight records.
However, I can certainly understand that this is not something that
should have happened and I am truly sorry for your experience. Please
be assured that I have forwarded your information to the appropriate
management so that we may avoid this in the future.
Thank you for writing, Ms. Wise, and bringing this information to our
attention. We appreciate your interest in our company and hope to
welcome you onboard a future Northwest Airlines flight.
I dunno, I guess I expected that they would offer me, oh let's say -- a new suitcase? I know, I know -- I should have been meaner and explicitly demanded one. But instead, I'll just splatter my angst all over my blog.