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Suing Northwest Airlines
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A request for compensation 

On April 5, I wrote a letter to Northwest's Customer Relations with a step-by-step account of what had happened. 

I pointed out that Northwest had failed to comply with the U.S. Department rule that requires airlines to give bumped passengers "a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets bumped on an oversold flight and who doesn't." 

I also stated that Northwest had closed the flight and involuntarily bumped us before the 60-minute deadline specified in its own passenger contract.

Finally, I requested the Department of Transportation's maximum statutory compensation of $400 per passenger (for a total of $2,000) and said that we might be willing to consider travel vouchers for a greater amount as an alternative to cash.

When I hadn't received a reply by June 1, I wrote another letter stating that I would be forced to sue Northwest Airlines if payment didn't arrive by June 21.

On June 16, I finally received a boilerplate reply from Janine Parke (Manager, Customer Relations) that simply stated the Northwest/KLM check-in guidelines and concluded, "Thank you for allowing us to review your concerns. We will continue to make every effort to serve our passengers well."

Enclosed with the letter were five travel vouchers for $150 each. The letter made no references to the vouchers, however, presumably because acknowledging them could be interpreted as an admission that we were in the right.

The lawsuit that paid off

Continued on page 3