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

The sun was shining.

It brought at extra cheer to this early New Jersey morning.

I was flying back from Newark airport to San Francisco with United Airlines. It was my first time flying with the airline's new boarding system.

Should you have avoided United for fear of urgent dental treatment, you may not know that the airline has worked long and hard at trying to streamline the boarding process.

Its latest idea -- one that it's tried before -- is to have just two boarding lines. 

Everyone else is asked to take a seat and wait for their moment to be called. Which is gloriously hopeful.

Still, I did my duty. 

I lined up in Line Number 1, as I was in Group Number 1.

It all seemed quite orderly. Group 2 lined up in Line Number 2 and everyone else sat or milled about.

Then I noticed a man walk toward a desk at the adjacent gate. He talked to the agent standing there and proceeded to create his own line, diagonally pointed at our gate, by moving the adjustable barriers.

Next, he stood at the front of that new line. 

Soon, other people joined his line. Who were these potentates that they could just do their own thing, with the apparent approval of United staff?

No one knew until boarding began. 

These, it seems, were some sort of Premier Access or Premier Platinum or Premier Iamsoimportant types who are promised to be "among the first customers to board."

Among didn't factor into it for them. They wanted to be first and, with the apparent approval of the gate agents, that's what they were going to do. With their own line.

And then the 1K's got upset.

These are the even more elevated sorts who spend their lives on planes because it makes them happy. Or something.

Once they saw these other Premier passengers boarding, they barged their way past us in Group 1, dragging their roller bags behind them down the narrow line like tired, recalcitrant puppies. 

Several people, including myself, were bumped out of the way as these people stormed to the front of Line 1. Without so much as an excuse me.

I thought they'd start trying to race the Premier Othersorts to the door.

It's quite comical how these people believe they deserve special treatment and how some of them go about making sure they get it.

It's as if it would be a personal slight if, say, someone from Group 1 boarded ahead of them.

What would have happened? Would their cushy pillows have been stolen? Would they feel shame that they weren't first on the plane? 

I've never seen a boarding system that worked well. There's rarely the space or the humn willing and there's often utter chaos.

Still, I asked United whether it had been experiencing such boorish, snooty behavior elsewhere. An airline spokeswoman told me: 

The overwhelming majority of customer feedback for our new boarding process has been positive. Introduced last month, the process is still new to many customers and we continue to listen to and take into account customer and employee feedback.

So-called status is much prized by some travelers. 

The thing with status, however, is to know when to wield it.

And when to behave like a human being.

Published on: Oct 28, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.