Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
The email was enticing.
The subject line was "Introducing A New Boarding Process."
I immediately opened it, wondering how American Airlines has managed to solve the often messy way that people get on planes.
The headline of the email offered infinite hope: "Simplified boarding process." Then it became confusing: "Same order, new group names."
So these names would make it simpler, yes? Only in the meaning of simpler that reads: "So much more complicated now."
Before, there seemed to be four groups, once the families and fancier people had been let on first.
Now there are nine.
Yes, social stratification has hit American Airlines so deeply that it's as if we're going back to the Middle Ages, where there was royalty, nobility (hereditary and non-hereditary), clergy, priests and, of course, serfs and slaves.
The last of these, of course, are now known as Basic Economy passengers.
If I really want to be picky, there are now 10 boarding groups on American.
ConciergeKey members, the most loyal fliers of all, now enjoy preboarding. This is to be distinguished from Group 1 members, who include First Class fliers and the military.
Group 2 comprises Executive Platinum, OneWorld Emerald and, on certain flights, Business Class types.
Group 3 consists of mere aspirants to nobility. They only have Platinum Pro, Platinum of OneWorld Sapphire.
Are you still with me? Or are you Platinumb?
Group 4? Now here is a motley bunch of barons and knights.
There's Gold and OneWorld Ruby. There's also Alaska MVP members, AirPass members, Premium Economy Fliers, Citi/AAdvantage Executive cardmembers and last, but not least, those were silly enough to pay more money to have "Priority Boarding."
How can you possibly be a priority if you're in Group 4?
So now we have five more groups. I won't delineate them all, other than to say I feel sure that the poor American Airlines gate agent will, by this stage, have reached for a vodka-and-lime secreted beneath the counter.
Just imagine the kerfuffle if the gate agent places the wrong designation in the wrong group.
How dare you! I'm a Group 4, not a low-life Group 5!"
Oh, you'll tell me that this isn't much different than previous boarding processes. It's just that American has given each status delineation a separate number.
I will merely murmur quietly: "Please, look at the whole thing. How is this simplified?"
And I will answer, also with a murmur: "Simplified" is airline speak for "We're Going To Make You Madder Than Ever And There's Nothing You Can Do About It."