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

There are airlines that want the skies to be friendly to passengers.

And there are airlines that only want those skies to get their passengers to their destination, mostly on time.

Southwest Airlines is surely in the former category.

Not only does it advertise itself with more smiles than a denture sales convention, but it has also generally championed passenger-friendly aspects when much of the rest of the airline industry has given up.

It doesn't charge baggage fees, for example. And flight changes come with the minimum of fuss and, more important, no nasty charges.

This week, however, the airline put an end to a perk that was a delight for a particular group of customers.

Those who have lived a little.

If you were aged 65 or older, you could avail yourself of senior fares. 

Yes, just as at movie theaters and other arenas of joy, Southwest would offer discounts to seniors.

And now, after 36 years, that perk is gone. Yes, just like the airline's peanuts.

Naturally, I asked the airline why it had taken such a painful decision.

A Southwest spokesman told me: 

After careful evaluation of the overall fare product, we've made the decision to sunset the Senior Fare option.

What a relief.

The fares haven't been killed with ruthless abandon. They've been carefully sunsetted. Sedated, perhaps, until they didn't feel a thing.

Still, what did the careful evaluation entail?

Were too many seniors taking advantage of these deals?

Did the airline fear that Millennials would start objecting that there were no fares specially designed for them, in their relative penury?

Or might this cancellation have helped Southwest make a little more money?

The airline has been the one most exposed to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.

It had 34 of the planes -- 10 more than American Airlines and 20 more than United.

Southwest was canceling 150 flights a day because of the MAX and this has made a dent in its ability to please the acquisitively greasy members of the Wall Street mob.

Southwest wouldn't be drawn any further on the true reasons behind this dying of the light. 

Instead, its spokesman told me: 

Many of the same benefits that come with the Senior Fare product are just as easily achieved with Wanna Get Aware fares, including everyday low fares and reusable funds should a customer cancel their trip.

It's also true, though, that nibbling away at a long-standing perk can begin to erode customer adoration, especially among those like seniors who are blessed with some disposable income.

Still, I'm sure Southwest's actuaries made their calculations and believe this will have no lasting effect.

I confess, however, to enjoying the idea of seniors protesting at Southwest check-in desks and demanding their fares back.

Or even taking the airline to court and claiming discriminatory practices.

After all, Southwest isn't doing away with its special children's fares.

Published on: Oct 13, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.