Archive for August, 2006

Hard news

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Conversation from this morning:
Gennie: I think Esme has an upset stomach - she ate some newspaper yesterday.
Andrew: Yeah, some of those editorials can be a little hard to swallow.
Gennie looks around for something heavy to throw at Andrew.

I've been thinking about some ways of motivating myself to write more stuff here. I have lots of ideas and half-written bits and pieces, but I think the trouble is that I'm a perfectionist and hate "putting stuff out there" unless I'm completely happy with it. This is also why it takes me ages to reply to email sometimes.

I think I need to change the way I think about this blog (again). Currently it's a sort of monster that I feel I need to keep on "feeding". Meanwhile I also have a personal website that I also hardly ever update (except for the photos section). I think what I'd like to do is to take some of the pieces I have written here and put them on my website, and then start updating my website on a reasonably regular basis with new stuff. This new stuff will also appear here so that you don't need to keep checking my website. That way my website will be something I can be more proud of (so I'll be more likely to update it) and the things I write will accumulate into an impressive looking list.

What a carry on

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

Suppose you run an airline. Times are hard for you. Fuel costs keep going up, but you can't raise your ticket prices too much or your pleasure customers will holiday closer to home and your business customers will videoconference instead.

You have to find some ways of cutting costs. You can't cut the salaries or benefits of your staff because they'd go on strike. You're already charging passengers extra for their in-flight meal and the movie. What do you do?

Apart from fuel costs, the bane of your existence is passengers:

  • They bring their own food, drink and cosmetics on board instead of buying your $5 bottled water, $10 sandwiches and $20 moisturizer.
  • They bring their own books, magazines, MP3 players and movie players aboard, preventing you from making a tidy profit selling entertainment to them.
  • They cause delays by talking on their cellphones during pre-flight checks, messing up the navigation instruments.
  • They increase the percentage of time your planes spend on the ground by taking forever to put their huge carry-on bags in the overhead bins. They invariably use these bins selfishly, causing later passengers to have to spend ages rearranging things in order to get everything to fit.
  • They take forever to get their carry-on bags out of the overhead bins and get off the plane, further increasing the ground-time factor.
  • They listen to noise-cancelling headphones and are therefore unable to hear instructions from flight crew.

But the passengers pay the bills, so you put up with them.

Hang on a sec, though - all those peeves above aren't so much with the passengers themselves but with all the junk they bring aboard. Almost none of it is really needed, especially given that you can sell them equivalents on board at great profit.

Of course, you can't just say "no non-essential carry on items" - how would you enforce it? The only way to prevent passengers from sneaking in a book or drink is to somehow get the security screeners involved. But how could you possibly convince the world that every piece of carry on baggage is a possible security risk? Well, I'll leave that one up to you.

Whenever new security measures are introduced into your life, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will it really improve security?
  2. Regardless of actual improvements in security, who stands to gain from the introduction of these measures?
  3. How could those who make the decision to implement these measures be influenced by those who stand to gain? (Clue... follow the money).

Now, this may sound like a bit of a conspiracy theory but I would not be at all surprised if the security measures introduced in the UK today stick, and spread to other countries. I will also be completely unsurprised if business and first class passengers are exempted from the rule, which would pretty much prove that this is a money-making scheme rather than a security improving one (just like the photo ID requirement).