One Man’s Helpful Hint is Another Man’s Interruption

A friend recently sent me this link to a discussion on the merits of obscure airport security notifications about snowglobes. Oddly enough, I experienced the snowglobe issue firsthand on a recent trip to New Mexico. The circumstances:

  • My daughter collects snowglobes
  • Snowglobes are the classic souvenir
  • Terrorists have attempted to smuggle incendiary fluids in small containers
  • The Feds only allow liquids in containers below a certain size onboard
  • Snowglobes contain an undetermined amount of liquid
  • Snowglobes are therefore banned from carry-on luggage
  • This information is provided to passengers only after the luggage check-in
  • There is no service that allows you to package and mail anything from the airport terminal
  • Nobody buying a snowglobe at a local tourist trap is going to piece all of this together beforehand
  • Terrorists and government bureaucracy now stand in the way of my daughter’s happiness

This whole situation was extremely annoying and I have to admit that a sign or some sort of notification would have helped. The trick for delivering a message like this is how (and when) to target your audience. Obviously, a sign taking up precious real estate in the terminal can be distracting and dilutes the effectiveness of more important messages. On the otherhand, there is a small subset of people who would really benefit from this information if it could be delivered at the right moment.

Interestingly, this incident did answer a question that had beeen bugging me throughout the trip: why is it so hard to find a snowglobe in Albuquerque? All I could find were items that looked like snowglobes but were partially filled with sand. It wasn’t like the area didn’t get snow — people ski there — so what was the deal? My guess is that the local tourist shops developed the sandglobes in response to the airport security issue. They were everywhere. Maybe the snowglobe warning should have been delivered at that point.

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