Bargaining for services and amenities in the cabin could be a win-win for both travelers and airlines, indicates research by a pair of New York-based law professors.
When it comes to the right to recline, going horizontal, it seems, should be a privilege passengers pay each other for rather than an automatic entitlement. In fact, an experiment conducted by two American academics indicates that, if this privilege was a paid-for amenity rather than an assumed right, it could help to keep peace in the cabin environment.
The Evening Standard reports that data from the study, which was compiled by law professors Christopher Buccafusco and Christopher Jon Sprigman, revealed that, if they could, travelers would ask for $18 in order to prevent the passenger in front of them from reclining their seat. On the flip side, those who wanted to remain horizontal would ask for $41 from surrounding passengers in order not to decline their seatbacks.
The duo said that these kind of bargaining fees could prevent tempers from flaring in close quarters.
Explaining their findings, the pair said, “Nobody likes the recent turn toward airlines charging for every service, but maybe what we need is more of that. Most airlines still hand out free drinks, and sometimes little bags of pretzels. Maybe instead they should charge for them and allow passengers to purchase them for one another.”
“People generally don’t like losing things they have. When a resource is provided to them as a default […] people tend to be unwilling to part with it,” they added.
In this kind of scenario, “Seat recline space is efficiently allocated. Airlines are marginally further from bankruptcy.”
But most importantly, in the situation where passengers are bargaining for the right to recline “no one gets punched in the face.”