Entrepreneur.com and Agape World
Where is the Catholic Outrage?

Availability Bias and Water Landings

Out of several million commercial flights, how many emergency water landings have there been?  One.  That's it.  Statistically speaking, none of us have any change of drowning after an airplane we were on crashed into the ocean.  It is literally more likely that lightning will strike you several times than it is that you will die while flying on a commercial airplane that makes an emergency water landing.

Yet that one water landing occurred very recently, and so the availability bias comes into play.  The availability bias "is a phenomenon (which can result in a cognitive bias) in which people base their prediction of the frequency of an event or the proportion within a population based on how easily an example can be brought to mind."  Since we just had an airplane land in the water, something must be done about the "problem." And so we have this:

DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines is limiting the number of passengers on some planes while it orders additional life rafts needed in case of a water landing like the one made this month on the Hudson River by a US Airways jet.

American will allow no more than 228 people including passengers and crew on its Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which normally holds 236 people including a crew of 11, spokesman Tim Wagner said Wednesday.

Putting aside the irrationality of preventing a non-existent problems, let's look at the cost.  Assume the average ticket price is $600.  For every flight, American Airlines will need to recoup an immediate $4800 loss (8 fewer passengers time $600 per ticket).  Multiply that by thousands of flights, and you're talking about millions of dollars a year. 

Millions of dollars to solve a problem that does not exist?  Bad thinking is expensive.  Even at $50, this book might be the best bargain of your life.