Misleading airliner news headlines are misleading


This post has nothing to do with Czech Airlines
This post has nothing to do whatsoever with Czech Airlines.
Photo by "Captainm" on Wikimedia Commons

It's been an eventful Sunday for some people in Australia: passengers across the country were stranded around 13:00 Australian Eastern / 12:30 Australian Central time due to a serious computer glitch in the Australian airline Jetstar's check-in systems. According to a Jetstar spokesperson, a power glitch was probably responsible. And here's me thinking airlines all had N+1 redundancy given that they essentially hold people's lives in their hands everyday. Huh.

Aside from thanking my lucky stars (get it, Jetstar? Stars? Oh come on, that was a quality joke) that I wasn't flying anywhere in Australia on Jetstar today, I found it amusing how different media outlets and newspapers reported the problem. The articles themselves were largely copied from press releases, but some of the headlines were obviously written to play up and overemphasise the severity of the situation through what I suspect was an intentional use of a double entendre.

ASIDE: For my ESL readers who don’t know, a double entendre refers to a phrase that has several meanings in the context that it was given, similar to a pun.

Jetstar Airbus A330 in Singapore
Jetstar Airbus A330 in Singapore. Photo by "My name" on Wikimedia Commons

For example, this is how the always reliable Adelaide 'tiser chose to report the problem:

Computer glitch delays Jetstar flights
A GLITCH in Jetstar’s computer check-in system has caused delays for passengers across Australia today.

The same story in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Jetstar check-in glitch hits passengers
A glitch in Jetstar’s computer check-in system has caused delays for passengers across Australia.

And here’s the same story on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp) News:

Thousands of Jetstar passengers stranded after crash
Thousands of Jetstar passengers are facing delays at airports across the country after a national outage of the airlines’ computer check-in system.

The ABC is the government funded news and television network that I tend to rely on more than the commercial news sources in Australia, though this sensationalist headline did remind me not to take everything I read at face value!

UPDATE: Before I even hit the Publish button for this post, the ABC has revised the headline to read: "Thousands of Jetstar passengers stranded after computer crash". Much better than their misleading and far more disastrous headline above, but still using the word "crash" seems to be a bit tacky when we're discussing aviation.

I guess it's true what John C. Dvorak has always said: the media can spin anything to make a situation sound better or worse by wrapping the facts in vastly different adjectives. Good thing I would never be caught dead doing anything like that here on the Rubenerd Blog. Uh, yeah.

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