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

If Ancient Romans happened to stumble upon our world and espy American Airlines, they might mutter: reductio ad absurdum

You see, the airline's shown a deep, abiding fondness for stuffing more seats into its new planes, reducing the legroom -- even in First Class -- and inserting toilets about as narrow as your average NFL kicker.

Indeed, you'd be forgiven for thinking that reducing the pleasure of flying American Airlines is the airline's absurdly joyous way of making more money.

It isn't always the case, though, that the airline just shoves more seats inside.

Sometimes, it rips them out. 

Why, only this week American began a retrofit of its very fine Boeing 787-8 planes and started to tear some seats out. 

These are relatively new, relatively comfortable and even relatively environmentally friendly long-haul planes.

Does American want to turn them into an example of a change of heart? Or perhaps even the discovery of one?

Well, now. That depends on your perspective.

The seats that are being ripped out are Business Class seats. 

I hear your little heart rise and then fall dramatically, as your brain begins to send it more data.

Does this mean that American is sacrificing these fancy seats in order to stuff more Economy Class seats in instead?

No.

Well, not quite.

This is, you see, all part of American's laggardly introduction of a concept with which Europeans are very familiar: Premium Economy.

This isn't an ordinary Economy Class seat with a pillow and blanket attached. That's Main Cabin Extra.

Premium Economy means a genuinely more comfortable seat, a separate cabin, slightly nicer food and, in my experience at least, often a lot more peace.

Virgin Atlantic, for example, has been offering it for, oh, 25 years and I've generally found it a pleasant experience. 

And now U.S airlines are catching on. They can be slow at times.

Still, inserting a Premium Economy cabin means reducing the number of Business Class seats from 28 to 20.

Which will make those who like to spend more money on a fancier service, hope for upgrades to a better class of flying -- or want to buy seats with miles -- a touch livid. 

Oh, who cares about them? Let's cheer that American is focusing on the real, everyday people who want something a little more pleasant than Economy. 

Well, just for a moment anyway.

Published on: Sep 15, 2018