If you wanted to know if passengers were carrying any prohibited goods in their luggage, how would you phrase the question?
How about: Are you carrying any prohibited items or something to that effect?
When I used the self-check-in at Christchurch airport I only skim read the question because I assumed that’s what it was asking, and answered no.
The response was a piece of paper telling me the check-in couldn’t continue because I was carrying dangerous goods so I’d have to go to the counter.
The Air NZ staff member there explained that the question wasn’t are you carrying any prohibited items? to which the answer would be no, but can you confirm you are not carrying any prohibited items? to which the correct answer would be yes.
I asked if I was the first person who’d mis-read the question and she, not surprisingly, said no I was the zillionith.
I know I ought to have read the question carefully, but if a zillion others don’t it suggests that there is a problem.
Albert Camus defined charm as the ability to get the answer yes without asking a clear question which might be fine if seduction is your aim.
But when it comes to airline safety and efficient check-in processes it would be much better to ask a simple question if they want to get the right answer.