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

It sometimes seems as if the airline business is a fine example of the pursuit of profit crushing the essences of customer service.

It also seems as if the tenets of leadership are subsumed beneath the need for speed and operational efficiency.

Get the planes out on time is the only mantra.

Make the passengers feel good is only appropriate when those passengers are flying First Class. 

Somewhere, though, airline leaders may be beginning to to learn that customer satisfaction can lead to greater profits.

Delta and Southwest have already embraced such an idea.

Somewhat lagging are United and American.

The latter, though, is rumored to reconsidering at least how uncomfortable it's making its First Class passengers on its newest planes.

And now United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has made a tantalizing statement in an interview with ABC News.

Asked whether it's time to stop squeezing passengers by making seats smaller, Munoz confessed: 

I think we are nearing a point certainly that we can't do that anymore.

Nearing a point?

That point was passed a while ago.

I flew in Economy Class on United's 737 MAX 9 before it was grounded and the comfort level resembled that of a poor minor-league ballpark.

As Americans have become bigger, airline seats have become smaller. 

As flying has become more stressful, airlines have begun charging customers for every last element of flying.

Munoz admitted that the whole flying experience has become so ugly that no coffee or cookie offered by the airline could make up for it. He said: 

It's become so stressful from when you leave, wherever you live, to get into traffic, to find a parking spot, to get through security. Frankly, by the time you sit on one of our aircraft ... you're just pissed at the world.

But when airlines further the discomfort by making the seats narrower and the bathrooms risibly tiny, they're contributing to the pain.

Customer tolerance does have it limits. 

The problem for airline customers is that they have little choice. Especially as many airlines merely mimic what other airlines are doing, often leading to a chase to the basement.

It's encouraging that Munoz understands there's a basement where customers feel only debasement.

It's up to airline leaders to devise new ways -- in a stressed system -- to make the flying experience rise even a little.

Knowing you have a problem is the first step toward solving it.

Published on: Apr 24, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.