Be sure to check out my latest over at Glibertarians – this week’s entry is five guns you should consider in the event Something Bad Happens. Now then:
Wow – the airlines can cut your odds of contracting the Kung Flu on an airplane by eliminating middle seats! Sounds great, eh? Well, maybe not so much. Excerpt:
The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, pegs the risk of contracting COVID-19 from nearby passengers on a full flight at about 1 in 4,300. According to the research findings, that risk drops to 1 in 7,700 when the middle seat is not booked.
The research paper, titled “Covid-19 Risk Among Airline Passengers: Should the Middle Seat Stay Empty?” was penned by award-winning MIT statistician Arnold Barnett and published in MedRxiv earlier this month.
The calculations, Barnett writes, “do suggest a measurable reduction in COVID-19 risk when middle seats on aircraft are deliberately kept open.”
“Measurable.” Well, sure; electron orbits are “measurable,” too. That’s a word that really carries little meaning in this case.
Let’s measure this another way. The elimination of middle seats – something I’d love, by the way, for purely selfish reasons – would reduce your risk of a Kung Flu infection from 0.233% to 0.130%.
Well, that sure is measurable. As in, it can be measured.
By way of comparison, your odds of being hit by lightning, over an 80-year lifespan, are about 0.0065%. So you’re more likely to catch the Kung Flu on a plane trip than you have of being struck by lightning. You have similar odds of being killed by “exposure to excessive natural heat.” Your odds are far higher of dying in a “pedestrian incident” (0.599%) or in a fall (0.787%.)
So, yeah, don’t look for the airlines to keep the middle seats un-booked for very long. My own airline of choice, United, has already started refilling these seats. So has America. Much as I’d love to see them remain empty just to feel less crowded on a flight, it doesn’t appear to make good sense. Not in a time when all of the major airlines are already bleeding cash.