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

United Airlines has something of an image problem.

I want to sympathize. I'm only human, after all.

However, this particular image problem was largely self-inflicted. After dragging Dr. David Dao and his bloodied face down a plane, the airline's CEO Oscar Muñoz tried, at first, to blame Dao.

Since then, United has become shorthand for everything that's bad about legacy airlines.

Which is patently unfair. American Airlines' CEO Doug Parker manages fine contributions to ordinary humans' pained wonder at airlines' priorities.

We are gathered here today, however, to celebrate the union of United Airlines and genuinely good news. 

It's easy to forget that the airline employs many fine people. Some of them, indeed, contact me to complain of how the airline treats them.

(Focus, Chris. Focus. The good news.

I've just been looking at the figures for on-time flights in December

What do I see at the top? United Airlines.

It managed to rise from 5th place the month before to slip ahead of Delta, which prides itself -- some would say excessively -- on its on-time prowess. 

Delta came a mere second, with Alaska and Virgin America (now both in an arranged marriage) third and fourth.

You're wondering who's at the bottom, because coming last also has its entertainment value.

It's JetBlue, an airline that last year gave me an excellent experience in its Mint Class.

Just above it is Frontier. Southwest came in at a rather painful 8th place. 

Yes, below Spirit. 

I trust United is holding at least a small celebration.

Even if some wag might suggest that it's easier to make an on-time arrival if you're not spending your time ejecting passengers.

Either by bumping or dragging.

Still, I hate to dampen spirits, but on-time arrivals ought to be relatively easy, given how much airline schedules are padded. 

Moreover, some say that airlines' keenness on championing their on-time performance hampers their enthusiasm for other things.

You know, like pesky old customer service.

You see, some airlines put a lot of pressure on staff to leave on time -- or even early. 

It's what's called in the trade D0. Even pilots have been known to resist the keenness on D0

For the airline, this makes their statistics look good.

For the passengers, this might mean upgrades not getting processed, smiles not being offered and a general tetchy atmosphere all around.

Moreover, let's not forget the official definition of on-time. It means arriving within 14 minutes of when the airline said it would.

But no. I'm going to be positive. Huzzah, United Airlines.

You just did something good.

Published on: Feb 10, 2018