Saturday, August 11, 2012

Virgin and Children travelling alone: Not bad policy, bad implementation

So if you're an Australian reader you would have heard the controversy recently when a male passenger was asked to move so that he wasn't sitting next to a pair unaccompanied minors. There are heaps of stories floating around in the media about it at the moment and it's even made headlines in the US. So basically they have a policy that unaccompanied minors shouldn't be seated next to males, with preferences given to having an empty seat next to them, then to have a woman. Now, for sure it is stereotyping males, but as with many such rules like this it is based on statistics. This is the same reason the Red Cross asks so many questions and eliminates people that have travelled to the UK etc. You'll probably find that the reason Qantas won't comment is that they also have the same policy.

Now, whether you disagree with the policy or not we can (probably) all agree that it was handled a little badly. This policy should be one of those silently enacted policies. That way minors are protected and no one becomes offended. By this I mean that better management of the seating arrangements tied into the booking system would mean that the policy could be enforced but it not be obvious to any passengers. I believe that the system already records when you make a booking that it will be an unaccompanied minor, so that part is covered. The next part is the seating arrangements. If it hasn't been arranged prior to boarding then simply issue them a new ticket. As every frequent flyer will tell you getting a last minute seating change is not uncommon. In this case, a last minute change for "operational reasons" to the gentleman's seating probably wouldn't have raised an objection. If you need move them to an exit row or something so it seems like an "upgrade". Ideally this would of course occur much earlier, say before the person even tried to select a seat, by marking the seats as unavailable on the booking system.

So my view is, good policy, bad implementation.

Friday, August 10, 2012

iOS 6 Wifi Plus Cellular

So apparently Apple as introduced a "Wifi plus Cellular" option for data in iOS 6. The idea is that data can be sourced primarily via Wifi but if Wifi is spotty it can be backed up by using the cellular connection as well. While this idea sounds great I am not sure how well it will work in practice. Firstly, how many applications are designed to take advantage of such redundant connections resolving to different IP addresses and the like. Unless the switch over is transparent and instantaneous, more time may be lost with flipping and application recovery than is gained by the dual channel feature. Ideally I'd like to see the feature go further and say bind specific applications to either Cellular only, Wifi only or both. Consider the situation where you are using your phone for work, you'd like your work emails to come through immediately but you're probably not too concerned if Facebook updates slowly in the background. Secondly it will be interesting to see how the carriers respond to this, there are lots of efforts underway to push users off the RAN and onto Wifi, this setting will ensure that a user on Wifi still consumes cellular resources beyond those required for voice termination. This is particularly a factor in networks where voice is still circuit switched but data is packet switched.