From what point do they measure age?

I took our daughter to the London Aquarium today to celebrate her third birthday.  Quite fitting really, given that it sits in the shadows of St. Thomas’ hospital, the wonderful hospital at which she came into the world on what will always remain the most fabulous day of my life.

The Aquarium charges £15.50 for three-year-olds, but two-year-olds get in for free.  We joined the queue at 12.50pm, at which time she was twelve minutes shy of being three.  Our tickets were stamped at 1.10pm, but I lied about her age, claiming she was at least eight minutes younger than she was, saving £15.50 in the process.

Interestingly, the regular queue was about 90 minutes in length.  But you could join the priority queue (which contained no one) if you were willing to pay an extra £3 per ticket, taking an adult ticket price from £17.50 to £20.50.  (That’s £2 per person-hour saved.)

I was the only person I noticed that took the lady up on the offer as she advertised it to the people in the queue.  However I bet that if the proposition was changed, the respective queues would be very different.  If a regular ticket cost £20.50, but you could save £3 by taking the alternative queue, I bet lots more would go for the default, more expensive option, despite it being less appealing do to its, er, appeal.  I find this conundrum very fascinating.


One Response to “From what point do they measure age?”

  1. Nick Robinson on April 7th, 2010 00:08

    We had a similar experience at Chester Zoo a few years ago at the same age-point. This weekend I notice they have reduced the demarcation to just two years of age – effectively, if your child walks in, you pay!

    On your point about people’s increased propensity to choose to change to a slower, cheaper queue instead of choosing to change to a faster, more expensive one, I’d bet you’re right. And I suspect that the arrangements at the Aquarium are more about their ability to handle the logistics than exploiting our unconscious preferences. Incidentally, this is a really great blog for explaining the science behind those kind of unconscious preferences:

    as is this book:

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