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Qantas refusal shows harms of poorly worded docs

Qantas refusal shows harms of poorly worded documents
WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust—24 July 2008
For immediate release

The WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust says the refusal by Qantas to allow a toddler to travel with her older brother shows how easily New Zealanders can be hurt by poorly set-out documents.

Anna Grace bought tickets on a recent flight from Christchurch to Queenstown for her son Hamish, 14, and Montana-Rose, 2. However, Qantas airline officials stopped Montana-Rose from flying because Hamish was not 15 years old.

Trust Chairman Christopher Travers says the Qantas online bookings site does not set out information about conditions for unaccompanied children in a clear, logical sequence.

“While Qantas may have good reasons for these rules, explaining them unclearly has left Mrs Grace in a very inconvenient situation, and that isn't fair.

“She assumed that her daughter was not travelling alone because she was in the care of an older brother paying an adult fare. This assumption seems reasonable according to the Qantas website booking process.”

Mr Travers says there are lots of documents and websites in New Zealand that could cause similar or even worse harm. Several have already been nominated for People’s Choice ‘Brainstrain’ awards in this year’s WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards.

The Awards, to be announced in Wellington on 11 September, are promoted by the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust to publicly honour organisations that communicate clearly.

Many entries have already been received, with further entries expected before the 28 July deadline.

“Most entries have been for documents or websites people like because they are easy to understand. However, confusing or badly structured information remains common. The judges always have plenty to choose from in the ‘Brainstrain’ categories,” Mr Travers said.

People can enter their own or someone else’s writing for an award in a number of categories at the 2008 Plain English Awards website ( Entries close on 28 July.


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