How much are you willing to pay for flight safety?

Following the tragic events of MH17 plane crash where 298 passengers and crew members were killed in July 2014 (for details see this article on the BBC), flight safety and security was high on the public agenda in the Netherlands.

This made me wonder:

(1) how important is safety in our choice of flight?

(2) what are the factors that determine how safe do we perceive a flight alternative to be?

Joey Blange decided to take this challenge for his master thesis work, and together with Eric Molin and Caspar Chorus, we designed two stated preference experiments: in a first experiment, combinations of airline and route attributes are evaluated in terms of safety that is captured on a rating scale; in a second experiment, safety perception is treated as an attribute and traded-off against other flight attributes to arrive at a flight choice

The results of both models are then combined to calculate the willingness to pay values for improvements made to a range of airline and route attributes, taking into account socio-demographic variables and psychological traits. The median willingness to pay value to improve safety perception with 1 point on a 1-7 scale varies between 75 and 448 euro, depending greatly on the initial value.

For the full details of the study including the results, see our publication on the Journal of Air Transport Management.