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

They've really gone and done it now.

That is, it seems, the view of some diehard United Airlines First Class passengers after learning that some of their greatest pleasures are being disappeared.

Last week, I wrote about how the airline had decided to cut or reduce some First Class meals on flights less than four hours.

This had provoked a level of fury that I'd only compare with some fisticuff-laden sittings of the Ukraine parliament.

But now more information has emerged and I fear that we may be on the verge of war.

You see, according to Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Business Journal, United is also removing Courvoisier cognac.

Perhaps you might think this is part of a drive to make America great again. 

It seems not.

For, gasp, Jim Beam is also out. As are tomato juice and Sprite Zero.

Please, for me this is so much frippery that I care less than I do about the demise of the Chicago White Sox.

For some United customers, however, this is catastrophe and calumny conspiring against them.

Hark at this from a commenter on View From The Wing: "I don't think the other airlines will follow suit and United will inevitably roll this back. I just don't get what they are thinking here. As long as these cuts remain in place, my willingness to buy up to F will be greatly diminished."

And this from another irate flyer: "United -- We step over dollars to pick up pennies!"

One passenger makes it sound like the world may be ending: "What? No Beam? The Devil's Cut was the only thing drinkable on their menu because they never seemed to have Buffalo Trace. Scott Kirby is a freaking joke. Fire him already so he can go work for Spirit or Frontier."

Kirby is the not universally loved president of the airline, who arrived at United from American with something of a cost-cutting reputation.

I contacted United to ask if these sudden changes had something to do with customer response, as had been suggested with the food alterations.

"We now offer Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in place of Jim Beam Devils Cut.  Mr and Mrs T Bloody Mary mix is now offered as well," a United spokeswoman told me.

Why wouldn't this be a relief to the privileged? I'm told by my editor and expert on bourbon that Buffalo Trace is far superior.

There is, though, another question: Might some of the First Classers' fellow elevated travelers be at the heart of these changes?

"With all of our food offerings we monitor customer consumption and adjust accordingly," the United spokeswoman told me.

Aha. 

Ultimately, the knee-jerk reaction of many airlines is to find new ways to squeeze customers every day.

A little here, a little there and the airline's numbers people make it add up to a lot.

Sometimes, though, the airline can't bear the noise from its customers.

And so it was that I received another email from United.

"We want our customers to know that we value and appreciate them and that we're listening. Our customers told us that they were not happy about the removal of tomato juice so we're bringing it back onboard as part of our complementary beverage offering," a spokesman told me.

But wait, the airline just told me that removing the tomato juice was based on customer consumption. 

We really are entering turbulent customer relations here.

The Beaming Disappearance might hardly seem like cause for weeping to those customers not used to free bourbon on flights. Or even, well, free food.

But the customers who pay the big bucks sit there wondering what their world has come to.

And if it will soon end. So they fight back.

Published on: May 13, 2018