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    Sometimes, Ignorance Really Is Bliss

    | Montreal, Canada |

    (A customer has called to redeem the points earned on her credit card in exchange for return airfare from Montreal, Qc to Chicago, Illinois. I have just given her the flight departure and arrival times.)

    Customer: “Why is the flight going there so short? You said it was a 90-minute flight.”

    Me: “The times are given in their respective time zones. We are in the Eastern time zone, but Chicago is one hour behind us, and it’s in the Central time zone. The flight really is 90 minutes long, it just looks shorter due to the time difference.”

    Customer: “Time…zones?”

    Me: “Yes, we have five time zones: Maritimes, Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific Time. In your case, there is a one hour difference between each zone. If it is 11:00am here, it is only 10:00am in Chicago. So when your flight arrives in Chicago at 11:30am, that is Chicago time. In Montreal it will actually be 12:30pm, so the flight is an hour and a half.”

    Customer: “Then why is the return flight so long? It’s like, an hour longer than the way there!”

    Me: “Again, it is the difference between the time zones, only in reverse. It only looks as though the flight is longer but it’s also a 90 minute flight. It adds an hour on the return flight because you are coming back East.”

    Customer: “I still don’t get it – the flight should be the same time in both directions. It’s 30 minutes to get there, but more than 2 hours to get back!”

    (After 20 minutes of more explaining I give up.)

    Me: “For the flight to Chicago, the wind is at your back, so the plane goes really fast. On the way back, it’s against the wind, and so the plane goes slower.”

    Customer: “Oh! Well that makes much more sense. Thank you!”

    Me: “I do my best. Have a good trip, ma’am.”