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

You can never be sure of people.

Every time you are, they'll go and do something that confounds you. Upsets you, even.

Sometimes, they can delight you, too. It's always wise, then, to allow for their whims.

I'm therefore concerned about a pronouncement this week from Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

Just like many an important executive, he imparted his wisdom at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference last week.

And, as Skift reports, he was in a bullish mood. 

Profits are marvelous and rising fuel prices, well, those will hurt the cheaper airlines more than they will Delta.

Actually, talking of cheaper airlines, one of Bastian's estimations entered my mind and won't leave.

"Customers that travel on those ultra low-cost carriers are people that otherwise would not be flying. They take their traffic from the couch into the airplane or whatnot," said Bastian.

He was specifically referring to the likes of Norwegian Air and Wow, airlines that are launching a little assault on transatlantic air travel.

Many passengers enjoy the fact that these airlines' fares are cheaper, even if they might have to pay for startling basics. 

In Wow's case, $3 for water.

Why, then, wouldn't Bastian want to impress these flyers with Delta's alleged value, rather than seeming to dismiss them, almost Leona Helmsley-style, as not his sort of people?

Perhaps they can't afford Delta right now, but what if they win the lottery?

And perhaps they really can afford Delta.

After all, the airline has started offering the dreaded Sub-Cattle Class -- aka Basic Economy -- on transatlantic flights.

In case you think Bastian wasn't entirely being dismissive, he did add: "You'll always have sources of people trying to come into that market in terms of the ultra low-cost guys. But again, we're not looking for those customers."

Ah. Oh.

Bastian presides over an airline to which American and United constantly aspire. 

Delta's customers tend to say nicer things about the airline that do American's and United's about their carriers. 

But to snort at these upstart airlines may not be to understand how people's perceptions of flying are changing.

Yes, it might appear that the likes of Norwegian and Wow currently cater more to budget leisure travelers than to bloated business sorts. 

Time, though, has a wicked way of altering human minds and the world's balance. 

Published on: Jun 2, 2018
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