Compo culture

Note: I am satisfied, based on Chris Miller’s comment (at 8 below), that he and his family did have a bad experience with Emirates well beyond an erroneous phone call for which an apology would have been sufficient.

Last month, British backpacker Michael Edgeley suffered chest pains on an Emirates flight back from Australia. The plane diverted to Mumbai, but sadly Edgeley died in the ambulance at the airport.

Also on the flight was the partner of Chris Miller from Tyneside, along with their two children. Emirates told Miller that his kids had chicken pox. And in a terrible mix-up with Edgeley,

When the backpacker later died, Emirates contacted Mr Miller in error with undertaker details.

Mr Miller said he had received a call from someone saying: “I have a couple of numbers for you, the first number is the undertakers dealing with the body”.

Mr Miller said: “At that point I believed one of my family was dead. I said, ‘What happened, what’s going on?’ but they put the phone down on me.

Mr Miller told the BBC he was hung up on when he asked to know what was going on. Emirates called again after 10 seconds to inform Mr Miller of their mistake. (Italics added)

Emirates has apologised to Miller, as they should. But is Miller satisfied with that?

Mr Miller said Emirates had not offered any compensation despite putting him through “absolute hell”.

Compensation for 10 seconds of “absolute hell”? I think not. If Miller’s family only came to the attention of Emirates by irresponsibly boarding a plane while the kids had a highly contagious disease, the stronger claim for compensation may be in the other direction.

Rating public education

It is common in public opinion research for people’s average assessment of their own circumstances to differ considerably from their assessment of the average for others. Usually, they think that their own situation is better than other people’s. One reason for this is that media reports more bad news than good, giving us an ubalanced impression of how well other people are doing.

Data published recently (xls) by the US National Center for Education Statistics, based on Gallup Poll surveys, shows this pattern of opinion in American evaluations of public schools. On a scale of 1 to 4 (4 being the most positive) public school parents almost always rate their local community school at least 0.5 higher than they rate the nation’s schools. They also always rate their local community school more highly than people who don’t have kids at school, and usually rate the nation’s schools slightly more highly than people who don’t have kids at school.

While in the case of issues like public schools the whole sample is politically relevant, I would take the views of parents as being the more reliable assessment of what is going on American public schools. Generally, they give their local school around 2.5 out of a possible 4.
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