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

Dear United Airlines customers, things are really much better than you think they are.

It's just that you haven't quite grasped it yet.

You haven't quite grasped that as the airline grasps for more of your money, it's for your own good.

I know this because United CEO Oscar Munoz just said so.

Speaking to the terminally taciturn Jim Cramer of CNBC, Munoz was giddy about how well things are going.

The share price has risen 25 percent over the last three months. 

I wonder if Dr. David Dao, the man whom the airline so memorably bloodied as it dragged him down an aisle got shares as part of his settlement with the airline.

Still, I haven't received too many emails from United customers lauding how wonderful the airline has suddenly become.

(None.)

It's hardly likely that they're excessively chipper given that United -- along with other carriers -- has just raised baggage fees by $5. 

Why, Munoz was asked, did it do that?

"It's important to reinvest in the business," he said.

And that is something that you, dear customer, just don't get.

"That's one of things about this industry that customers don't always understand," continued Munoz. "All of that money we get is being plowed back into the business."

I fear one or two customers might be confused.

They might wonder whether "being plowed back into the business" includes "being plowed back into executives' huge bonuses"?

Then again, Munoz insisted the airline commits the money customers give it to "the right things."

Would this include shoving more seats into planes, something that United is cheerfully doing, along with American and others?

Those extra seats cost a lot of money, you know.

Moreover, it seems that Munoz is upgrading United's promise to put so much of its customers' money back into the business.

When baggage fees were first raised, United's employees were given a hilarious script to use if customers complained.

It included the wording: "Our hope is to reinvest in a more enjoyable and caring flight experience for you and all of our customers."

That hope now seems to have turned to certainty.

It's a touch painful, perhaps, for customers to hear all this upbeat wittering when they may not have seen any improvements in United's offerings at all.

"You guys are lucrative," Cramer gushed.

That must be, I hear you mutter, why it needs to raise baggage fees. 

Munoz explained that the airline's balance sheet was very strong and that customers would see many improvements,"literally every week," next year.

Can you cope with good news "literally every week"? Can you literally cope with the notion that United will, in Munoz's words, "de-stress the travel lifestyle"?

Munoz and his fellow managers must be magicians if they can reduce legroom, stuff more seats into planes and somehow de-stress you.

Or did he actually say distress the travel lifestyle?

Published on: Sep 29, 2018