Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
They feel your suffering.
They understand your pain as if it were their own.
They watch you struggle and they wish they could do something about it.
I’m talking about airline executives. And I’m lying.
I’ve been moved, you see, by the words of United Airlines president Scott Kirby.
Skift managed to get wind of this thoughts from a recent town hall meeting with employees. I fear you may find some of his sentiments a bit of a drag.
Kirby mused this on the subject of coach seats having little to no legroom — sometimes, the closest measure of this is called seat pitch.
“Seat pitch has come down because that’s what customers voted with their wallets that they wanted,” said Kirby. “I know everyone would tell you, ‘I would like more seat pitch.’ But the history in the airline industry is every time airlines put more seat pitch on, customers choose the lowest price.”
You see, oh silly passenger. Your discomfort is caused by your parsimoniousness.
If you gave the airlines more money, they’d be only too delighted to offer you more space.
Instead, you’re being cruel to the airline by not wanting to pay more, so the airline has no option but to make you feel bad.
Indeed, you can’t help thinking that the airline is happy to make you feel bad in order to extract more money out of you, so that this bad feeling never returns when you’re on a plane.
Some might wonder, of course, whether the $39.4 billion airlines made in profit last year might have been reduced a little, in order not to squeeze even more seats onto planes.
Instead, it seems that Kirby admitted that United’s ambition — if you can call it that — is to be competitive with Southwest and Spirit. Ergo, this means squeezing in more seats, so that you feel as if you’re flying one of the worst airlines in the world.
Of course, airlines have found all sorts of glorious ways to nickel-and-dime passengers over the last few years.
Thanks to government shielding them from anything that resembles true competition, airlines have patted your pockets down like overzealous TSA operatives, in order to extract the last vestiges of your cash.
When they say they know you have many options when you fly, they know that this is piffle. On far too many routes, you may have little to no options.
So, now that they have your credit card in the palm of their hand, they squeeze you physically as well as financially.
What makes this even more glorious is that most airlines operate in an entirely short-term manner. They care only about their quarterly results and lo, those results dictate their executives’ bonuses.
Meanwhile, their staff are left to act like police officers, as passengers experience increasingly nasty conditions.
You might be uplifted by Kirby’s Margaret Thatcher-like insistence that there is no alternative: “I say, ‘Pay a little more and you get can get seat pitch’. If it’s worth it to you, you can do it. But if you just want the cheapest fare, this is what it is.” This is what it is.
At the heart of this is you, dear passenger. You’re the person who’s the reason for your deep, vain thrombosis.
Take a look in the mirror and repeat these words: “I hate flying and it’s all my fault.”