If you could book an economy-class flight with the near guarantee that you would enjoy a full row to yourself at a steeply discounted price, would you do it?
Of course you would, right?
Ok, what if the airline offering this sweet deal was suffering through a severe crisis? What if a couple of its planes had gone down over the past several months, killing all of the passengers on board?
What if the airline was Malaysia Airlines?
It seems most travelers are avoiding Malaysia Airlines like the plague, and as a result the airline is hemorrhaging cash and finds itself in serious jeopardy of no longer existing. And it also seems like most everyone accepts that this mass exodus from the airline is to be expected.
But why? Why would travelers avoid Malaysia Airlines. Why would people who are typically economically motivated pass up incredible economy-class deals on nearly empty flights?
It seems to defy reason.
I feel desperately sorry for MAS and it’s staff and crews, a great airline with excellent service. Clearly the loss of the two 777’s with all onboard has taken its toll, unsurprisingly. ~MrMichael
Again, my question is, why is it unsurprising that the vast majority of travelers would cease to fly this airline? Sure, it suffered two very tragic and very odd disasters, but it is also widely hailed as a terrific airline offering a great service:
They’re a great airline. I really hope they come through this (and I hope without re-branding, though I suspect they may feel that’s unavoidable – but it would be a shame). ~JonHirsch
MAS is a great airline and product suffering from 2 unfortunate issues. ~K1ngston
MAS is an outstanding airline! Due to the unfortunate incidents, I personally have increased by bookings with the airline as a show of support. ~JETCRUISER
So we have a great airline offering deep fare discounts flying with lots of empty seats. Take away the two exceptional disasters (if only we could) and it wouldn’t make sense at all. Add the disasters back in and everyone seems to generally agree that it makes perfect sense.
- Is it because an absolutely enormous percentage of the population believes in jinxes and bad juju? That bad things happen in threes?
- Or perhaps it is more rational. Are people assuming Malaysia Airlines will go out of business any day now – despite most evidence to the contrary – and so they aren’t purchasing tickets for fear they will lose their money and their ride?
- Maybe people aren’t taking Malaysia Airlines flights out of a sense of guilt – not wanting to take advantage of deals and comfort at the expense of those who fell victim to the tragedies. Neglecting that this reaction will only serve to more quickly doom the airline, and everyone who works there.
- Another, possibly slightly more rational consideration – maybe we as a collective species are hard-wired to react this way. No matter how unusual the circumstances of the disasters, we want to send a message to other carriers that flights going down will not be tolerated. Further, maybe most people believe that no matter how odd the circumstances of the disasters, perhaps the airline isn’t being run all that well and it really is riskier to fly them as compared to other airlines.
I’m not a psychologist, a behavioral economist, or a neuroscientist, so I really have no idea what is going on inside travelers’ brains. I know this though, if Malaysia Airlines served a route I was planning to fly and offered me a good price, I would jump on it. In part because it would help the struggling carrier, but if I’m being honest I would also enjoy a row to myself at a good price. And from a superstitious/oddsmaker perspective, I would think, “what are the odds this airline would suffer yet another catastrophic event in the near future.”
What about you? If you are avoiding Malaysia Airlines, please share your reason why. If you have flown them recently, please share your experience. How was your flight? Was it mostly empty?
And why do you think so many travelers are turning their back on this airline, and the deals and comfort currently on offer.
Read the thread in its entirety: MAS losing over US$2 million a day