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

"You do not have my permission to videotape."

Those were the words uttered by a United Airlines gate agent at New Orleans airport last Saturday. And they led to another very awkward incident for the airline.

Navang Oza says he was flying back to San Francisco when he was surprised to discover the baggage fee being charged had more than doubled. He told NBC Bay Area that the same bag that cost him $125 to check on the way out would now cost him $300.

So he began to film the gate agent.

This, remember, is United, an airline for whom passenger videos have caused much angst of late. Remember the bloodied David Dao?

After that, United's CEO Oscar Muñoz said his employees would no longer call on law enforcement to police passenger disputes, unless it was an issue of security.

What we see from this video, however, is that the gate agent had no patience with Oza. She immediately orders his reservation to be canceled.

Oza asks her why. She says it's because he had no permission to film her. Then she began to film him on her cellphone.

And then, miracle of miracles, airport police arrived.

"Sir, you have the right to do whatever you want," says the police officer. "It's a public space."

Oza admits he'd been drinking the night before -- the action happened at 4 a.m. -- but insists he wasn't drunk.

The situation devolved into Oza's refusing to speak to the gate agent, instead wanting to talk to a manager. In the end, he says, he booked a flight with another airline.

I contacted United to ask about yet another unfortunate example of its customer service. I will update, should the airline reply.

A United spokeswoman told me : "The video does not reflect the positive customer experience we strive to offer, and for that we apologize. We are reviewing this situation, including talking with Mr. Oza and our employees to better understand what happened."

As often with such videos, we don't know the whole story.

There is, though, something that one can say with a certain confidence: Relations between airline staff and their customers have sunk very fast.

The pressures on the employees are considerable. Airlines are squeezing them to be profit generators and police officers. And not all passengers are pleasant.

Being filmed doing your job isn't pleasant either.

But the notion of customer service seems to have disappeared. Instead, every passenger is regarded as a potential threat.

Whether it's better training or better airline policies, something needs to change.

But do airlines have enough incentive to make changes when they are essentially part of an oligopoly?

Published on: May 9, 2017