Onboard Auctioning

Just like this blog has been slow to really get off the ground, so has a RyanAir flight in Gothenburg been grounded today after a flight attendant somehow ended up tumbling out of the cabin doorin Swedish as the mobile stairs pulled away, falling three meters and possibly suffering serious injury (no official word on that).

Putting aside the obvious tragedy of the situation, something near the end of the article caught my attention. The reason for the grounding is that the plane can only a limited number of passengers per flight attendant. Now that they’re short one flight attendant, they have to either wait for a replacement, or fly with fewer passengers. Apparently, these passengers have started their own auction to try to sort out who to go with the plane, and who to wait behind: “we are collecting cash contributions among the passengers so that we can encourage enough people to leave the flight, so that we can get underway.”

Of course, this is similar to what airlines already do when they overbook a flight: start offering vouchers, or even cash, until someone agrees to take a later flight. But this is remarkable in that it emerged from the passengers themselves. It would be interesting to learn not only what the final price was, per deferred passenger, but also how the bidding progressed — how much it took to attract the first person, then the second, etc. Direct evidence of the value of travel time at the lower end of the tail!