Someone from the Hong Kong Airline Pilots Association has tried to explain airline ticketing policy in layman's terms. First a reprise of how hardware shops sell paint: Customer: Hi. How much is your paint? Shop Assistant: We have normal quality paint for $18 a litre and premium paint for $25. How many litres would you like? Customer: Five litres of normal paint please. Shop Assistant: Great. That will be $90. Now, imagine you are buying paint from an airline: First you spend days trying to reach them by phone to ask if they have paint. Nobody answers. So you drive to an airline paint shop. Customer: Hi. How much is your paint? Shop Assistant: Well, sir, that depends on quite a lot of things. Customer: Can you give me a guess? Is there an average price? Shop Assistant: Our lowest price is $12 a litre, and we have 60 different prices up to $200 a litre. Customer: What's the difference in the paint? Shop Assistant: Oh, there isn't any difference; it's all the same paint. Customer: Well, then I'd like some of that $12 paint. Shop Assistant: When do you intend to use the paint? Customer: I want to paint tomorrow. It's my day off. Shop Assistant: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is the $200 paint. Customer: When would I have to paint to get the $12 paint? Shop Assistant: You would have to start very late at night in about three weeks. But you will have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at least Sunday. Customer: You've got to be kidding! Shop Assistant: I'll check and see if we have any paint available. Customer: You have shelves FULL of paint! I can see it! Shop Assistant: But it doesn't mean that we have paint available. We sell only a certain number of litres on any given weekend. Oh, and by the way, the price per litre just went to $16. We don't have any more $12 paint. Customer: The price went up as we were talking? Shop Assistant: Yes, sir. We change the prices and rules hundreds of times a day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with your paint yet, we just decided to change. I suggest you purchase your paint as soon as possible. How many litres do you want? Customer: Well, five litres. Make that six so I'll have enough. Shop Assistant: Oh no, sir, you can't do that. If you buy paint and don't use it, there are penalties and possible confiscation of the paint you already have. Customer: WHAT? Shop Assistant: We can sell enough paint to do your kitchen, bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do the bedroom, you will lose your remaining litres of paint. Customer: What does it matter whether I use all the paint? I already paid you for it! Shop Assistant: We make plans based upon the idea that all our paint is used, every drop. If you don't, it causes us all sorts of problems. Customer: This is crazy!! I suppose something terrible happens if I don't keep painting until after Saturday night! Shop Assistant: Oh yes! Every litre you bought automatically becomes the $200 paint. Customer: But what are all these Paint On Sale From $10 a litre signs? Shop Assistant: Well, that's for our budget paint. It only comes in half-litres. One $5 half-litre will do half a room. The second half-litre to complete the room is $20. None of the cans have labels, some are empty and there are no refunds, even on the empty cans. Customer: To hell with this! I'll buy what I need somewhere else! Shop Assistant: I don't think so, sir. You may be able to buy paint for your bathroom and bedrooms, and your kitchen and dining room from someone else, but you won't be able to paint your connecting hall and stairway from anyone but us. And I should point out sir, that if you paint in only one direction, it will be $300 a litre. Customer: I thought your most expensive paint was $200! Shop Assistant: That's if you paint around the room to the point at which you started. A hallway is different. Customer: And if I buy $200 paint for the hall, but only paint in one direction, you'll confiscate the remaining paint. Shop Assistant: No, we'll charge you an extra use fee plus the difference on your next litre of paint. But I believe you're getting it now, sir. Customer: You're insane! Shop Assistant: But we're the region's only paint supplier so don't bother to go looking for bargains. Thanks for painting with us.