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

It's been a difficult relationship, the one between United Airlines and humanity.

There have been significant downs and the airline has promised to behave better.

Then again, after you've lost trust in a relationship, you always fear that your partner has ulterior motives.

This may cross the mind of one or two United customers when they hear about the airline's latest wheeze.

It's going to stop what's currently known as full cabin service on all flights of less than 59 minutes.

Instead, as Skift's Brian Sumers relates, United will have a pick-up pan.

No, the airline isn't asking you to clean up after yourself, though who'd be surprised if that day arrives?

For now, United is dispensing with the idea of a drinks cart rolling down the aisle and replacing it with pre-made drinks on a little pan, carried by the Flight Attendant, so that passengers can help themselves.

Or just point.

The airline told its Flight Attendants: 

We are listening and heard your feedback that the service can be really hard to complete on these really short flights.

I already hear you shifting uneasily. You're concerned that United's Flight Attendants really don't want to put in the work on these flights. 

Please don't worry. United has thought of that.

It added in its message to the Flight Attendants:

This will allow for more time to engage with customers.

But of course.

Flight Attendants have been craving more interaction with customers on tightly-squeezed, narrowbody planes. They tell me this constantly.

Passengers, too, have been desperate to chat about world affairs with their Flight Attendants. There's just never enough time or space.

Please, then, let's consider this new world order on short United flights.

You're sitting in your seat. You fight with your fellow passengers to see who can grab the last ginger ale from the pick-up pan.

Passive-aggressive looks are exchanged.

A United Airlines Flight Attendant sees your struggle. They walk over to you a little later and say: 

Hi. Amazing job you did getting that last ginger ale! You elbowed that guy out of the way in style! Yay, you! High-Five!

I contacted United to ask for more details about how this will all work. An airline spokesperson told me: 

Beginning Jan. 1, on flights between 30 minutes and one hour long, flight attendants will have the option of hand delivering beverages versus delivering from a cart. This adjustment does not change the beverages or the products offered, only the delivery method.

I suspect, though, that the extremely businesslike will notice another aspect to this new United idea.

Might there be a little cost-saving, as the selection of drinks on the pan becomes, despite United's assurances, a touch limited? 

Though I find United's reasoning sweetly insincere and a beautiful inspiration for soft snorting, I confess I'm on the airline's side.

When I'm flying on a very short flight -- and there aren't many with a 59-minute or less flying time -- I'm not sure how much cabin service I need. If any.

I can bring my own bottle of water and no, I don't really need your peanuts, thank you.

It's an hour, for goodness sake. Even if, I concede, that hour might be extended to 90 minutes (or three hours) with Air Traffic Control delays and other joys of flying.

I actually have sympathy with cabin crew who race around trying to get a packed plane a drink, only to instantly turn around and take those little plastic glasses back and shove them in a big plastic bag before the plane lands.

Oh, but if fights start breaking out over the pan's contents, that's the time Flight Attendants might be wistful for the old ways.

Published on: Dec 16, 2018