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

Airlines currently have many concerns.

Other than making more money, that is.

Many seem to be firefighting -- or merely fighting their mechanics -- rather than introducing innovations to their service.

United Airlines, by contrast, promised service improvements "literally ever week" this year.

I fear passengers might not have noticed such a plethora. 

They might, however, notice the airline's latest idea. 

United confessed last week that it's testing a new software-based service. This may cause the departure of certain planes to be slightly delayed, in order to wait for connecting passengers whose earlier flights may have been slightly delayed.

Fortune reported that Scott Kirby, the airline's president, said at an investors conference last week that the new program is called Dynamic D0.

Should you be unfamiliar with D0, this is airline code for: "We're leaving on time and we don't care who the hell you are or why the hell you're late. Goodbye."

What could the dynamic version be? Perhaps, you might think, United will send you a text that says: "Hey, we're dynamic. Tough luck. We're leaving without you."

But no. Instead, as Kirby explained the new system will tell gate agents and other staff: 

Hey, here's five or six customers that are coming to this connection. They're going to be five minutes late, but we know we can make up the time in flight on this particular flight.

This seems bizarrely considerate.

So bizarrely considerate that it might make you wonder why the airline didn't do this before.

Last year, United CEO Oscar Munoz did admit that just occasionally, once in a while, the airline did bother to wait for someone.

To systematize the notion, though, is an approach that reeks of civilization.

The downside, of course, will arrive when the aircraft doesn't wait for passengers who are a few minutes late and then the airline claims it couldn't make up the time in the air.

Don't pilots always manage to negotiate with Air Traffic Control? After all, planes are flying slower these days, partly to conserve fuel.

What some airlines are learning -- and United learned it the hard way after its passenger-dragging debacle -- is that rules are fine, but should also be flexible.

It's a good lesson for any business.

When you (bother to) do right by your customer, even if it's strictly against the rules, you're likely to not only secure the customer's loyalty, but attract others when that customer describes their positive experience.

It's basic humanity, after all. Something with which, sadly, a few airlines still struggle.

Published on: Mar 10, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.