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The following appeared in an Avia Airlines departmental memorandum.
“On average, 9 out of every 1,000 passengers who traveled on Avia Airlines last
year filed a complaint about our baggage-handling procedures. This means that
although some 1 percent of our passengers were unhappy with those procedures,
the overwhelming majority were quite satisfied with them; thus it would appear
that a review of the procedures is not important to our goal of maintaining or
increasing the number of Avia’s passengers.”
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
The conclusion in this Avia Airlines memorandum is that a review of the airline’s baggage-handling procedures will not further its goal of
maintaining or increasing the number of Avia passengers. The author’s line of reasoning is that the great majority of Avia passengers
are happy with baggage handling at the airline because only one percent of passengers who traveled on Avia last year filed a complaint
about Avia’s procedures. This argument is problematic in two important respects.
First, the argument turns on the assumption that the 99 percent of Avia passengers who did not complain were happy with the airline’s
baggage-handling procedures. However, the author provides no evidence to support this assumption. The fact that, on the average, 9 out
of 1000 passengers took the time and effort to formally complain indicates nothing about the experiences or attitudes of the remaining
991. It is possible that many passengers were displeased but too busy to formally complain, while others had no opinion at all. Lacking
more complete information about passengers’ attitudes, we cannot assume that the great majority of passengers who did not complain
Secondly, in the absence of information about the number of passengers per flight and about the complaint records of competing
airlines, the statistics presented in the memorandum might distort the seriousness of the problem. Given that most modern aircraft
carry as many as 300 to 500 passengers, it is possible that Avia received as many as 4 or 5 complaints per flight. The author unfairly
trivializes this record. Moreover, the author fails to compare Avia’s record with those of its competitors. It is possible that a particular
competitor received virtually no baggage-handling complaints last year. If so, Avia’s one percent complaint rate might be significant
enough to motivate customers to switch to another airline.
In conclusion, the author has failed to demonstrate that a review of the baggage-handling procedures at Avia Airlines is not needed to
maintain or increase the number of Avia’s passengers. To strengthen the argument, the author must at the very least provide
affirmative evidence that most Avia passengers last year were indeed happy with baggage-handling procedures. To better evaluate the
argument, we would need more information about the numbers of Avia passengers per flight last year and about the baggage-handling
records of Avia’s competitors.