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

Let's talk euphemisms.

It might help ease us in to this week's less than wonderful news.

It's sub-optimal, really. 

You see, airlines enjoy slipping the bad news right in the middle of some apparently good news, so that you might miss it.

Last week, for example, United Airlines announced it was launching something called Corporate Preferred seating. 

This allows companies that spend lots of money with United to get their employees a better chance of upgrades, a lesser chance of downgrades, some priority boarding and a few other little benefits that might make employees smile for a second or two.

It's tough on corporations, after all. They have to make as much money as possible, while being people, too. 

Yet hidden within this corporate preference is some frightful news for Economy Class passengers.

You see, this Corporate Preferred wheeze gives the big spending corporations access to the first few rows behind Economy Plus -- the seats with slightly more legroom. 

These first rows behind Economy Plus are ordinary Economy Class seats, but they're closer to the front of the plane.

But what if there's a lack of preferred corporate warriors on the plane? 

Oh, look.

You can sit in them, dear ordinary Economy Class passenger. As long as you pay extra for them, that is.

You see, these are now Preferred Economy seats. Even, on certain planes, the middle ones.

It's unclear how much United intends to charge for these perfectly ordinary seats.

An airline spokeswoman did tell me, however: 

Beginning later this year, at time of booking, select standard Economy seats typically closer to the front of the aircraft behind and Economy Plus will be available for Corporate Preferred Elite Customers and United MileagePlus Premier free of charge. If these seats are not filled, they will be opened for all customers to select at check-in, free of charge. 

So  you could get one of these very ordinary, but slightly preferable, Economy Class seas for free.

You could, but it's not so likely.

This is just one more little tippytoey step toward every single seat on the plane enjoying some sort of extra fee. Unless, that is, you have what airlines call status.

And no, of course United isn't alone in this latest little money-grab. As Zach Honig reports at the Points Guy, Delta's been at this for some time.

A concomitant joy of all this is, of course, ensuring Basic Economy more differentiated.

With this Sub-Cattle Class fare, your seat is assigned at the last minute, you can't upgrade you board last and you can't even bring a real carry-on with you. 

Now, though, the price difference between it and what used to be many normal, ordinary Economy Class seats will expand.

Please consider, though, all the new euphemistic terms the airline may now have to invent to define almost every row on the plane.

Somewhat Preferred Economy.

Occasionally Preferred Economy.

Sub-Preferred Economy.

Middle Class Economy.

Not Your Ordinary Economy.

Parsimonious Economy.

And somewhere, a United Airlines executive smiled and poured himself a prosecco.

Published on: Aug 19, 2018