Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Truly, I'm the nicest person.

Until, that is, you choose to insult my very core. Or even humanity's.

Then, I might reach for an apposite epithet, one that's designed to scorch your very soul until it melts into looking like day-old grits. 

It doesn't often work, but when it does, the ensuing silence is satisfying.

So I wonder how executives at United Airlines, American Airlines and others might feel on being insulted by Southwest's chief revenue officer Andrew Watterson.

Speaking to Skift's Brian Sumers, Watterson waxed lyrically about things that entertain a chief revenue officer.

You know, things involving money. Such as credit cards.

He did, though, touch on some more human issues.

For example, whether the airline would start flying to Europe. (The answer was no, which strikes me as wise.)

But then he lurched onto Basic Economy. 

This, which I prefer to call Sub-Cattle Class, consists of the (allegedly) cheapest fare offerings that are so unbundled that you're surprised to get a seat cushion.

Different airlines have different Basic Economy stipulations. Even though Delta got to this sad idea first, United and American have become far more the poster people for this, as for many other airline ills.

These fares generally stipulate that you can't book your seat in advance -- hullo, nasty middle seat. You also can't change your ticket and you board last of all.

On United, for example, you're only allowed to bring a carry-on that fits under the seat in front of you. No use of overhead bins allowed.

It's a pricing strategy. The airlines want you to think this is so horrible that you're prepared to pay more for a regular Economy Class ticket than you did before.

You might think, then, that Southwest's chief revenue officer would be charmed by such a ticket.

It might raise -- as the legacy airlines hope -- well, revenue.

His response, though, was a rather prominent middle finger aimed at United, American and the like who are embracing Sub-Cattle Class with an unseemly enthusiasm.

"We encourage all the other airlines to have Basic Economy. We love competing against substandard products," he said.

United didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. American declined to comment.

I rarely hear such excited, almost emotive words from a chief revenue officer. 

Then again, I think he knew exactly what he was saying.

Southwest is well-known for enjoying quite some brand loyalty. 

Although when I recently spent just 12 hours watching the complaints roll in to the airline's Twitter account, I wondered how the staff hadn't use the nastiest emojis at their disposal.

Still, for its customers to hear that the airline isn't prepared to make the sorts of cynical, price-gouging compromises so adored by other airlines is surely uplifting.

Southwest has -- somehow -- managed to resist many of the desperate dives toward the bottom so enjoyed by legacy airlines. 

While bags still fly free on Southwest, United is now charging $9 for overhead bin space.

American is so desperate to shove more seats onto its planes that even its pilots say the new bathrooms are "the most miserable experience in the world."

Personally, I've had very bad experiences on Southwest, as well as good ones.

But at least the airline tries chiefly to focus on the human side and not just on the, well, chiefly revenue side. Even if it's now charging more for alcohol.

United and American -- especially -- are barely brands these days. They're large commodity providers that ferry a lot of people to a lot of places with insufficient enthusiasm.

If they are brands at all, they often stand more for negative things than positive.

Indeed, here's a new Consumer Reports survey that appears to reflect that view.

Southwest understands that there are certain things a strong, popular brand won't do, just to make a little more money.

Published on: Mar 17, 2018