Northwest Airlines has turned a profit -- between $60 and $100 million, give or take 10 mil. You scan the article looking for the word "Powerball." But no, it's legit. Fuel costs were down, fares are up, powerful new vacuum cleaners are removing even more coins from the seat cracks, and the super-extra-hated baggage fee is bringing in almost half a mil a day -- enough to cover the replacement costs of those pillows, which were apparently so expensive they stock only one per plane.

We should all be happy, right? They can't go on losing money forever. They need to pay for fuel, unless you think they can convert to the Tinkerbell Principle and have everyone clap their hands if they want the plane to stay aloft. (People in First Class only have to snap their fingers once or twice.) For the past few years we've become used to the grim headlines: NWA LOSES $160 BILLION, ALSO YOUR SUITCASE. Every time you read of a new record loss, you suspect they'll have to push the planes instead of fly them, which would limit them to routes that are mostly downhill. New slogan: Like the bus, without the muttering guy drinking Jack Daniel's back by the bathroom.

Surely this means that the flying public -- I'd call us "Cattle" but they don't have to take off their hooves on the way to the barn -- might expect the return of some long-lost amenities. Like those free salt-encrusted molar-cracking ceramic pretzels. Or perhaps the right to request an entire can of soda without feeling as if you'd asked them to taxi past your house and drop you off. This probably won't happen, but be content. An airline that keeps losing money is like a guy trying to refi a house that burned down. Again. We're pleased when they make money, right? Right.

Just not so much, right? Right. • 612-673-7858 More daily at