Don’t fly Chinese

August 19, 2013

Were you frustrated by airline delays or airport inefficiency this summer? I know I was. But any problems surely pale in comparison to those facing the Chinese flier, if this report by Time magazine is anything to go by. The stats speak for themselves:

According to data provider FlightStats, all of the  world’s 10 worst airlines for timekeeping in June were Chinese. FlightStats also  notes that China’s airports — also operated by the state and bereft  of customer-friendly facilities like decent restaurants or shopping — are  prime offenders for tardiness. A paltry 18% of flights from Beijing’s Capital  International Airport took off on time this June — the worst record of any major  airport anywhere in the world. And Beijing is far from China’s only  laggard. No. 2 on the FlightStats’ global offenders list? Shanghai.

The reasons for this woeful state of affairs apparently include military dominance of airspace (restricting the freedom of passenger planes), the inertia of a small number of government-owned dinosaur airlines (three firms alone account for 80 per cent of the market), and overly-stringent air traffic control restrictions. But passengers are fighting back – impressive in this most restrictive of regimes – and in July an entire planeload of frustrated travellers simply refused to disembark upon landing because of being delayed for so long.

The chance of positive change currently seems to be slim, however: according to Chinese media reports, airports are attempting to avoid angering travellers by… simply not announcing delays at all.


D-Day is here… or is it??

November 6, 2012

So here we go: ten months after beginning this blog with the principal intention of focusing on the presidential election, and posting since then on a sporadic, undisciplined yet enthusiastic basis, the good people of the US vote today. The two events are, as far as I know, causally unrelated.

It seems there would have to be a widespread, rare systemic mistake in the polls for Romney to win (cue collective sigh of relief amongst Wannabe Yanks worldwide), and it’s unlikely a single swing state will decide matters, but in the unthinkable event Bob Dylan is wrong (he never is), and that Obama doesn’t win relatively easily and Ohio, say, proves crucial, I was terrified to read today that it may take another ten days for us to know who will occupy the White House for the next four years!

It all comes down to provisional ballots – where someone has cast a vote but there’s a legitimate question about his/her eligibility – of which there are likely to be many, as the chaps at the Washington Post explain:

There were 150,000 such provisional ballots cast in 2008. There could be at least that many this year — including those cast by voters who requested an absentee ballot but didn’t return it. State rules say such people cannot use standard ballots on Election Day and must vote provisionally.

Provisional ballots tend to be used more often by low-income and transient voters, and both sides assume they will break strongly for Obama.

That means Romney could hold a small lead in Ohio at the end of the counting on Tuesday and still lose the race there — possibly even decisively — if several hundred thousand provisional ballots remain to be counted.

Under that scenario, the public should prepare for a long wait. Ohio rules say provisional ballots cannot be counted until 10 days after an election.

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