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

Don't ever think they can't go any lower.

No, I'm not talking about politicians. I'm talking about airlines.

And I'm not talking about their fares.

There are some airlines that glory in the idea that they're cheap. Of course, they take things you thought were basic away from you.

Water, for example.

These, though, are the basic airlines.

The problem now is that the airlines you thought a little classier are getting in on the cheap act.

Delta has already launched its Sub-Cattle Class. (My brand name. Don't even think of stealing it.)

Now United has announced its own foray into the depths. And what a foray it is.

As Skift reports, United has just announced its own Sub-Cattle version. It's called Basic Economy. And it's created with the passenger in mind. The passenger who can take any amount of pain, that is.

For the chance to pay a slightly cheaper fare, you'll have to forgo certain luxuries.

The chance to choose a seat, for example. Or the chance to change your ticket for any reason whatsoever. And there's no way you can upgrade.

But United has gone one step further. Lower, that is. You can't bring a carry-on either.

Yes, one of the fundamentals of the business traveler is being removed, if that business traveler wants to save money.

United intends to shovel these basic humans into boarding group 5. It will allow you a personal item. You know, a laptop. Or a comb.

And agents will be blessed with mobile payment systems to charge you a second baggage fee (if you've checked a bag as well, that is) for any carry-on deemed not a personal item. They'll check it too.

It's not yet clear how much this second fee will be.

There is, however, a saving grace for the elites. As there is in all walks (and flights) of life.

Elite members are exempt from this carry-on stricture if they've bought the Sub-Cattle Class tickets.

Then again, how déclassé it will be if the poor people's seats will be full of rich types trying to save an extra dime or two.

For the airlines, this is merely a simple business battle against the likes of Spirit, Allegiant and others who operate purely on the basis of fares.

The neurosis of the (formerly) classier airlines is that 85 percent of its customers only fly them once a year. Those customers can easily be seduced by cheaper fares of bucket airlines.

What, though, might the United brand lose with this dive into the depths?

In other markets, classier brands often resist the descent into price. Can you imagine if Apple suddenly released a $200 iPhone?

The airlines, however, think they can get away with it because they've already set passengers up to expect nickel-and-diming at every turn.

Gouging is the new normal.

With relatively little competition, everyone feels they can gouge. Except for Southwest, that is. It's still resisting the idea that it should charge baggage fees, despite clamoring from its investors.

I wonder how long that will last.

Nov 15, 2016