I can remember the story itself, but I cannot recall the title. It should be really easy to identify, as, while not unique, it's at least distinct.

It's a short story that is set vaguely in "present day" (for whenever it was published). It is about a guy who finds an airline that does really cheap flights. Long (or short) story short(-er) it turns out that this is achieved by killing one person on that flight. The sacrifice is chosen on a lottery principle, so all passengers stand an equal chance of dying. In exchange, the flight is extremely better for everybody else - the plane is reliable, there is no threat of an emergency, it's on time and it's very fuel efficient. I cannot remember the details of why that was, but it was possibly not explicitly stated.

The main character is made aware of this and that somebody would have to die by a stewardess/flight attendant. In fact, all people on the flight know about the "death lottery" and are there despite that. The main character objects about this being murder in the beginning, but eventually starts to "see reason".

The story is old-ish, I believe from the 70s or maybe 80s. I thought the title was "Morder Airlines" or maybe even more explicitly "Murder Airlines" but googling does not seem to reveal a sci-fi story called that. Or perhaps, it is buried deep in news articles about murders and planes (lo-o-ots of those show up).

I hope somebody could give me the name and the author.

  • 2
    I don't know about you, but looking at flight costs, this is actually starting to seem like quite a good idea.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 23:09
  • And that's how it was presented to the main character. The stewardess said something along the lines of "lives would be lost with no gain if the plane crashes, but our planes do not crash" and then went on to assure the protagonist that the amount of sacrifices are less than the average deaths from unforeseen accidents in other airlines. And finished with something like "isn't minimising and controlling the amount of death for the convenience of others, to the benefit of everybody?"
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


So, I spent a lot of time trying to find this and I finally did!

The story name is Mordair written in 1958 by the Czech author Josef Nesvadba.

I have read it his collection of short stories titled Expedition in the Opposite Direction originally published in 1962.

  • 1
    Wow, what a horrible "Warning To Society" story. I'm glad I saw this and will search for it. The concept of sacrificing "one" so that "everyone else" gets a good life -- and looks the other way -- is the theme of Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas". Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 18:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.