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

United Airlines rather got used to apologies.

Whether it was dragging passengers down aisles or shoving dogs into overhead bins to die, the airline's decision-making skills were manifestly a touch imperfect.

Since then, United has been trying.

It's trained its staff in the basics of customer service. Or, some might say, in the basics of humanity.

And, in my experience, the difference has occasionally been visible. But not always.

The airline is, from my conversations with employees, desperately trying to differentiate itself from American Airlines, which seems to now represent the apogee of lucre-based, customer-neglecting flying.

This week, United took another little step toward showing you that it's become a touch more humane.

It gave Flight Attendants the power to buy passengers a drink.

No, not just because they like the look of them. This is more of a Please, I know we messed up. Can we buy you a drink to say sorry?

As Skift's Brian Sumers reports, United says this is an example of United's new In The Moment Care attitide. 

The airline's message to its employees read, in part: 

In-The-Moment Care allows you to be the solution by making in-the-moment recovery decisions that can positively affect our customers' travel experience.

Many are surely familiar with how alcohol can positively affect their travel experience.

Specifically, the drinks vouchers on offer won't be the same as sometimes given by airlines during long flight delays. 

United will email customers a free drinks voucher, which can then be redeemed during flights.

Oh, look. More work for Flight Attendants.

There is, naturally, a tiny concern with such gestures. Those giving out the vouchers might be more human than United will prefer.

Last year, American Airlines chided its employees for being a little too nice in offering instant compensation for inflight ills.

Of course, there'll still be passengers who will be annoyed by being palmed off with a free drink when they believe they deserve more. Especially teetotal passengers. 

But at least it's something. 

These days, airlines aren't often moved to generosity, are they?

Published on: Feb 16, 2019
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