Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Airlines want you to feel better about flying with them.
They really do.
But first, they want to feel better about making money.
Which is why they invented Basic Economy fares.
They seem cheap, but they have enormous restrictions. You can't book your seat in advance. You can only take one small carry-on onto the plane. And the seats are made of unvarnished wood.
Yes, I made that last one up. But, wait. It will happen.
United Airlines has been perhaps the most aggressive about extending its Basic Economy offering. It's almost everywhere now.
And now the airline's CFO, Andrew Levy has revealed the true purpose behind these apparently lower fares.
As Skift.com reports, Levy was speaking at the Citi 2017 Industrials Conference on Tuesday.
There, he offered these enlightening words about Basic Economy: "You get people to pay more for something that in the past was bundled."
These supposedly super-low fares are actually designed, you see, to make you pay more for what you used to think was standard.
It's a pricing strategy, not a customer service.
It's almost as if United wants you to try Basic Economy just once, see how painful it is, and then decide that you have to fly in regular economy which now -- oh, look -- costs a little more than it used to.
You'll turn into a pillar of Lot's wife when I tell you that some people are upset when they buy Basic Economy tickets.
Take former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown. He offered this on Twitter: "@United @cheaptickets I paid 600$ for a last minute one way ticket. Only to find out its a basic economy ticket, only 1 bag, never again!!"
And on hearing "never again," someone at United whispered: "The next time you'll pay more, sir. Huzzah!"
Brown, though, isn't the only one who's upset.
Here's Twitterer MsGoWhitely: "How many times does @United have to abuse me before I finally leave it? #BasicEconomy, with its no carry-on policy, is such a sleazy move."
Or this, from Twitterer Galextresia: "United basic economy is the most dehumanizing experience ever. Don't make the same mistake I did. Go normal economy or don't fly @United."
United says its most pressing concern was to explain to people clearly what they're buying. Third-party sites, where many people buy their tickets, might not be as clear.
But here's another angry Twitterer, rj: "@united What fare classes are 'Basic Economy' and what are 'Standard Economy' -- not clear on your site."
Soon, you'll get used to it. The cheapest fare will always be the one that gives you no options, the worst seats and the inability to carry on anything meaningful at all.
And then you'll feel so, so relieved to pay a lot more, just to be in good old economy.
You will, of course, forget how awful good old economy used to be in the first place.