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

I was sure my eyes were fibbing.

Sometimes, they present sights that stun me into stupor so much that it takes me a while to ponder whether what I'm seeing can possibly be true.

One of those moments happened last week, courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

It slipped out an announcement that went so much against current airline attitudes that I was tempted to go outside and scream my joy to the coyotes lurking there. 

The announcement began with these words: "Delta emphasizes customer comfort."

Who does that? Which airline even stops to think for a moment about such an archaic concept? Especially when it comes to economy class.

American, United, and so many others are far more concerned with shoving as many seats as possible into planes -- even reducing first class legroom -- in order to make a few more dollars to pad their executives' shareholdings.

Yet here was Delta suddenly thinking about, well, the people who give it their money?

The announcement went on to describe how, in refurbishing its Boeing 777-200ER planes, the airline had decided not to do what its rivals do -- put 10 seats across in economy class.

Instead, there'll be a mere nine. The result is that the seats will be wider.

I said wider.

The seats will be 18.5 inches wide. Yes, almost as wide as the bathrooms in American's Boeing 737 MAX planes -- and soon in many of its 737-800s.

This new Delta seat compares with 17.1 inches on American Airlines planes and a mere 17 on airlines such as United and even Emirates.

I asked Delta whether it had been suddenly overcome by excesses of summer heat.

The airline insists its air conditioning is in perfect working order.

"Customer comfort was the driving factor in our decision to remain at nine-abreast seating, versus the new norm of 10 across," an airline spokeswoman told me.

It's a curious time for Delta to make such a decision. 

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration decided it wouldn't regulate seat size or legroom, because it believes neither influence the safety on board a plane.

Yet here's Delta undergoing a burst of such uncommon civility that it might make some passengers go out of their way to fly the airline.

Indeed, I asked Delta whether it felt that providing superior passenger comfort would allow it to raise fares for the privilege.

"Ticket prices are dynamic and based on variables like time of year, time of day, distance, and the market," the spokeswoman told me, with what I interpreted as a cryptic half-smile.

Delta also wouldn't be drawn on whether it will expand its sudden lurch toward customer comfort onto the remainder of its fleet.

For now, though, let's just bow. A little.

A major airline has offered a tiny nod to the fact that seats are getting smaller and humans are getting bigger.

Whatever will they do next? Increase legroom?

All right, now I'm just being silly.

The 6 Worst Airline Customer Service Blunders
Published on: Jul 8, 2018