Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
In recent years, passengers' expectations of airlines have plummeted.
Airlines have cleverly and successfully beaten passengers down -- and, in the case of United Airlines, up -- to the point at which passengers will tolerate almost anything.
Even when airlines introduce something new, you know there's going to be a huge catch.
Hey! We've got a new plane! Yay, your legroom is reduced and the bathrooms are the size of a matchbox!
It's a complete shock, therefore, when there's a genuinely pleasant surprise.
This might -- I said might -- come when passengers on American, United and Delta flights experience the new Embraer E2 Series of planes.
Th elegantly named E175-E2, E190-E2, and E195-E2 planes are wonderfully fuel-efficient.
However, their greatest joy is that its manufacturer claims they will offer a "wide-body cabin feel."
That won't be easy in a plane that might hold fewer than 90 passengers.
Still, one of the most important elements of this wide-body cabin feel is the number of middle seats: zero.
Yes, for once you may have to fight over one arm rest instead of two.
A particular uplift will also be experienced because this plane will replace some of the oldest, gnarliest puddle-jumpers in the world.
It'll be used for regional flights and, indeed, its biggest customer is SkyWest.
You might not be familiar with the name. It does, though, fly regional routes for airlines such as American, United, Delta and Alaska.
Please imagine, then, that you might sit in (relative) luxury on some of the shorter flights you might undertake.
Sadly, I'm afraid the seat pitch still won't be marvelous, but it'll surely be a vast improvement on today's horrific jalopies.
Now we pause for the catch. SkyWest did, indeed, order 100 Embraer E175-E2s.
But then, as an Embraer spokeswoman told me:
In 3Q18, we removed an order placed by Skywest for 100 E175-E2s from our backlog, largely due to IFRS [International Financial Reporting Standards] accounting changes. Given current timing uncertainty of the scope clause changes in the U.S. market to allow the heavier E175-E2 to be flown by regional airlines under capacity purchase agreements (CPAs) for mainline airlines, Embraer has proactively adopted best practices to align with the latest IFRS principles and remove the order from backlog given its conditionality terms. Skywest remains committed with the E175-E2 order and its terms are unchanged.
Essentially, pilots at the big airlines want to ensure that pilots at the little airlines don't start flying bigger planes for less money.
And so, yet again, improving the airline consumer's lot is placed behind financial considerations.
Earlier this year, I wrote about this plane's big rival, the Airbus A220, which will be appearing on Delta flight early next year. It has fewer middle seats, offering a 2-3 configuration.
How entertaining, indeed, that the shorter routes are suddenly getting a widebody cabin feel, while the longer routes have that narrowbody-I-want-to-ululate feel.
Sometimes, the little guy wins. Rarely, I know, but please let the metaphor live.
Even if it'll be a while before these new Embraers fly around the U.S.