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


Never imagine for a moment that customers are the most important thing for airlines.

Money is the most important thing for airlines. Following that, is money, money and money. Oh, and lucre.

Perhaps that view is a touch caustic. It's just that with airlines tearing at your pockets -- after you've paid for your ticket, that is -- it's hard not to get that impression.

Still, there are the occasional gems.

And one of them is disappearing.

When Virgin America was bought by Alaska Airlines, some wondered whether Alaska would keep the Virgin brand.

After all, with its cool purple lighting and general mood of relaxed, amused decency, Virgin was rather popular.

Such naive thinking. Alaska was no more likely to keep the the Virgin flag flying than Donald Trump was likely to keep Preet Bharara.

Indeed, it's just announced that the brand will be phased out by 2019.

The announcement had delicious words attached.

"We spent the last 10 months conducting extensive research and listening carefully to what fliers on the West Coast want most," said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing."

"So when people kept telling us they loved the Virgin brand, we thought: 'Oh, don't be silly. We're just doing this research to make it look like we care about you.'"

Naturally, those are my words.

Woerner's were: "While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name -- for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares."

Love just isn't enough, people. It's all about the Benjamins, not the Virgins.

What Alaska is promising is consistency and efficiency and a little less of those warm feelings.

Indeed, it's even taking out the purple lighting on planes and inserting blue lighting. From cool to chilly.

And I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that if it kept the Virgin name it might have to continue paying a fee to the Virgin Group for continued licensing of the name.

Oh, it's not all terrible. There's appeasement to be had.

Alaska promises it's going to retrofit all its planes with very fast Wi-Fi. It also says there will be more premium seating, which will (theoretically) allow those snooty elite flyers to have more chances at an upgrade.

"Our colleagues at Virgin America built something truly amazing over the past decade, and it's our goal to honor what they achieved," said Woerner.

It's a peculiar kind of honor to make something truly amazing truly disappear before people's eyes.