You meet your friend Sally at the airport. She has just arrived. You say:

Hi, Sally. How are you ________________________

A) did you have a good flight? Or B) have you had a good flight?

According to the book this question is from the correct answer is "a" but it the book says recent past should be present perfect. They said "she has just arrived" which made me think it was present perfect. Why is it simple past?

  • Something for you to think about. Let's say I drop my pen. Five seconds later I pick it up. Should I say "I dropped my pen." (Simple Past) or "I have dropped my pen." ?Present Perfect Five seconds is the very recent past. Which would be more appropriate?
    – Don B.
    Apr 5, 2019 at 4:22

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, your book is assigning a black-and-white tense to every scenario, which isn't how English works. On corner cases like these, either one works. It really doesn't matter which one you use, but in spoken English at least, A) is more common than B). B) sounds a little less conversational, a little more formal.

Of course, if that flight was a month ago, you wouldn't use B). Interestingly, A) can still be used even when the flight is only mostly over!

Situations and what to say:

  • Before the flight: "Will you/Are you going to have a good flight?" (we don't usually say those, since there's no good way to respond because it hasn't happened yet)
  • During the flight: "Are you having a good flight (so far)?"
  • At the end of the flight: "Did you have/Have you had a good flight?" (asking about what's already happened)
  • Recently after the flight: "Did/Have" (but more often "did")
  • A long time after the flight: "Did you have a good flight?"

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