Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been identified in 135 countries around the world and the pandemic places the disabled, elderly and immunocompromised at significant risk for severe illness and even death. As a result, I have made the decision to abide by the CDC’s “social distancing” recommendation by canceling all of my travel plans for the next month.
Prior to making that decision, I had been scheduled to fly to New York City this week. Unfortunately, my favorite seat (4F) was taken on an otherwise empty Airbus A321 aircraft.
Finding myself in 4A, I decided to play a classic game of chicken with Mr. 4F, hoping that fear of the Coronavirus would cause him to surrender the seat.
Here’s the seat map, or game board:
The seats in the cabin were arranged in a 2-2 configuration, with two seats on each side of the aisle. The seats were lettered A, C, D and F, in each of four rows, numbered one through four.
My starting position was seat 4A, and my opponent was in 4F. The cabin was otherwise empty, with 14 of 16 seats unoccupied.
I made the first move, from seat 4A to 4D, placing myself directly next to my preferred seat and the passenger who held it. I wondered, would he fall for my ploy or hold firm?
Within about 24 hours, he had relented, jumping across the aisle to claim seat 4C. Thankfully, this was a game of Chicken, not Checkers, and I was able to slide into seat 4F. King me!
Although I won’t be taking this flight after all, I was proud of my performance and enjoyed using a bit of basic game theory to my advantage. This is indeed something that we can often employ in empty or nearly empty cabins, whether under the threat of a coronavirus pandemic or not.