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This is prompted by the comments seen on this question (and this).

Basically:

are questions asked in the early days of this SE (e.g. this one) a good indication of what we deem on topic?

Or has the community changed focus and we deem such questions off-topic?

Or is the situation fuzzy and not yet settled?

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I would like to quote Bret Copeland for this answer

I think passenger questions which relate directly to the operation of an aircraft seem on-topic. Questions which relate more to "travel concerns" like frequent flyer miles programs, would almost certainly be off-topic.

Each off topic vote must be viewed case by case. I believe if enough wrong doing is done it can be undone with voting system we have.

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  • $\begingroup$ And yet, there are tags like "low-cost carriers". $\endgroup$ – Harper yesterday
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This particular question is definitely on topic here. The Help Center says that 'The "passenger aspects" of commercial air travel' are off topic here. But this question doesn't mention commercial air travel at all; it applies equally well to flying that is not commercial, as well as flying that is not for the purpose of travel.

I think almost any accident-related question is likely to be on topic here. Aviation experts think about accidents all the time, and spend lots of time studying accident prevention and mitigation. So a question like "how do I survive a crash" is clearly within our scope.

(Of course, questions about specific accidents are likely to be off-topic; I'm talking about general accident-related questions.)

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My personal definition of "passenger issues" is "things that a pilot doesn't care about". Obviously, there are a few issues with that definition, but it's my starting point at least. So using the two examples you gave, the first one is on-topic because pilots are certainly interested in crash survival. The second one is off-topic because pilots don't care if individual flights are profitable or not; that's a management/accounting issue1.

One of the obvious problems with my loose definition is that it excludes other aviation professionals like cabin crew, controllers, mechanics etc. But in those cases I just ask myself "would a controller (or whoever) care?". If not, then it's off-topic for sure, at least in my opinion.

Some 'passenger' topics can go either way. Cabin crew have to deal with passenger comfort, for example. That's certainly very important to passengers and crew but it's not always aviation-related. Consider airline meals: at least in my opinion, neither the pilots nor the cabin crew care much about how meals are chosen, but they do care that the flight crew doesn't get food poisoning.

Ultimately this is a grey area that we won't be able to resolve fully to everyone's satisfaction, but two potential guidelines for identifying passenger questions are:

  1. Would an aviation professional care about this? If no, it's probably off-topic
  2. Is it on-topic on travel.SE? If yes, it's probably off-topic

1 I suppose you could argue that pilots should care, because if their employer is unprofitable they might lose their jobs, but that's really stretching it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think no further justification is needed in regard to "pilots don't care if a flight is profitable". The people who are employed by the airline who happen to have a pilot role certainly do, but the pilot as the person in command and control of an aircraft does not. $\endgroup$ – Nij 8 hours ago
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A question might be (partly) on-topic, while some of its (best) answers are not.

A question may be related to both, aviation and passenger issues. In that case a good answer should be elaborate on the aviation part, and somewhat brief on the passenger part. An answer that covers only the passenger part would be off-topic for Aviation.

Sometimes the OP does not know where the question belongs to. Clarifying that there is nothing to say from the aviation point of view should be on topic, because other people might have the same question.

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