Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
For the last couple of weeks, being a United Airlines' PR people has likely been less fun than a colonic irrigation on stage at a packed Madison Square Garden.
After the airline became infamous for dragging and bloodying 69-year-old Dr. David Dao off a plane -- and compounding it by first blaming his behavior -- you might have imagined that the airline's PR staff were begging CEO Oscar Muñoz to do something, well, people-friendly.
So United actually presented its proposals in a manner that few had expected -- ahead of schedule.
The airline had promised it would declare itself by April 30. Yet here we are three days early with its declaration of the 10 things it's immediately implementing (full list below).
The most eye-catching for some might be that United is going to offer up to $10,000 to persuade passengers to give up their seats.
Sadly, Delta got there first, as it announced the same amount shortly after the Dao incident.
Still, United offered several more promises.
It will "limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only." Which sounds good. However, Delta kicked a passenger off for going to the restroom shortly before takeoff and, gosh, described it as a security issue.
United insists it will now not force passenger off planes, once they're seated on them. Which seems civilized. Naturally, there's still the security caveat. Oh, and law enforcement won't be seen. Unless you've really, really been a bad passenger.
Here, though, is a potential breakthrough -- small, but still. United says it will "empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment."
This concept is one that some might describe as "normal customer service."
Having gone through my own private hell with Southwest earlier this year -- when ground staff refused to do anything to help -- you might think that satisfying passengers would be to contribute to nebulous areas such as brand image and customer loyalty.
Indeed, United is even embracing the dark arts of imaginative thinking.
It vows to "establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination."
The airline is even promising one more human element. It will "eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a 'no questions asked' policy on lost luggage."
Please imagine that airline staff might believe your story. A breakthrough for mankind.
I tend to think of these proposals as "well, that's the least they could do."
The only way any of them might become surprising is if they work in truly unexpected ways.
I'm sorry we've bumped you from this flight, madam. But your chauffeur-driven limousine is waiting outside to drive you to your destination. There's a fine bottle of Krug inside.
One can always wish.
United's Ten New Commandments.
1. Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
2. Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
3. Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000.
4. Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination.
5. Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
6. Provide employees with additional annual training.
7. Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
8. Reduce the amount of overbooking.
9. Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
10. Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a "no questions asked" policy on lost luggage.