Silly question

January 26, 2009

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.


Australia Day – Aussies do it better

January 26, 2009

There are many areas in which New Zealand can claim superiority over Australia but I’ll concede defeat in one area of trans-Tasman rivalry and that’s in the celebration of the national Day.

Australians win because they’ve got one and we haven’t and because they really do celebrate.

From the time we arrived on Thursday we were confronted with reminders that Australia Day was coming up: shop windows celebrated Australiana; yesterday lots of cars were festooned with flags; the Strand in Townsville was alive with people in a party mood last night and the news today is celebrating Australia and its people.

The day isn’t without controversy however. The Australian of the Year is Professor Mick Dodson who has called for Australia Day to be moved because most indigenous people regard the date as “invasion day”.


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