Today’s Economics Lessons

Supply And Demand

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Delta has launched a mileage sale for a number of routes this summer, with many of the prices depending on the length of the flight. The 1,700 mile flight from Cincinnati to Las Vegas, for instance, can be had for 11,000 miles in the main cabin, while the short hop from Chicago to Minneapolis will only run you 5,000 miles. These sales are common during the summer months, when supply often exceeds demand.

What’s interesting is that Delta has added Comfort+ awards to the list of sale redemptions. From a mileage junkie perspective, it’s this point that interests me. Delta is doing everything it can to establish Comfort+ as an entirely different category from regular economy (or business, for that matter). I have no doubt that there will be a time in the next few years when complimentary upgrades for elite members will be to this cabin, not first class.

Math Is Really, Really Hard

Sometimes, I get one of those stories that is just too good to be true. Unfortunately, this one is. Recently, University of Pennsylvania Economics Professor* Guido Menzio was pulled from a plane heading from Philadelphia to Syracuse** after his neighbor saw him writing strange things on a piece of paper. Turns out that he was doing differential equations, not writing a secret terrorist manifesto. Yup, the dark-skinned, bearded man was deemed suspicious because he was doing math. He was escorted off the plane by an agent of an unknown department, but later released after reassuring that agent that his musings “weren’t Arabic, or some other terrorist code. They were math.” Ironically, of course, there was plenty of Arabic: Arabic numerals. Let’s skip that for now, though. Apparently, writing in Arabic (or having handwriting bad enough that it might potentially be a bad-guy language), especially when combined with being dark-skinned and not wanting to talk to your neighbor, now constitutes suspicious behavior. Got it. But as a lefty who enjoys my quiet time on airplanes, I’d like to object to this characterization. Until then, though, here’s an article about a few other people who made the mistake of flying while having the wrong skin color.

And if you want a good laugh (if you can describe economics jokes as providing a good laugh), here’s an article from The Economist about identifying your seatmate. Thanks to Gary at VFTW for the link.


*As a former Penn Economics student, I can assure you that the many times that we referred to our Econ professors as terrorists were strictly figurative, not literal. There was a certain amount of danger in the classes, though, with the most prevalent being failing to repay the loan shark from who you borrowed money to purchase the books.

**There is no truth to the rumor that he was going to watch Penn’s Quakers kick Syracuse’s butt in basketball.

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