On buying tickets

Game Theory

The airlines need to play an especially ruthless game of chicken with their customers since a seat on Flight 3206 from Miami to Chicago, unlike a washing machine, becomes worthless if it isn’t sold in time. So as every flight gets nearer, the airline is willing to accept less and less at the very time some of its passengers are willing to pay more and more. The infuriating rules about Saturday night stayovers and so on are a crude alternative to administering truth serum and asking, “So how much are you really willing to pay?”

This is an excerpt from Consuming Gets Complicated, a link I discovered on the consistently excellent blog Follow Me Here …. The essay makes a reference to how capitalism equates to a game of chicken between the consumer and the seller. A wealth of information on this type of situation, and how often it occurs in everyday life, can be found by reading Prisoner’s Dilemma by William Poundstone. It’s really a fascinating book and I highly recommend it.

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