It's kind of funny the state we airline travelers have been reduced to. I can remember when airline meals were something to look forward to and when refreshments of all sorts were plentiful -- and available free of charge.
Of course, in these days of airlines providing customers with basic fares, and then loading on all sorts of extra charges for baggage, seats with more leg room, preferential boarding, and much more, most of those freebies have gone out the window.
Last week, United Airlines quietly removed something from its in-flight beverage cart on flights less than four hours: tomato juice. Now, I like tomato juice as well as anyone else, but to be honest, the only time I drink it straight and not as part of a bloody mary is on an airline flight. However, once the word got out about United's latest cost-saving move, the airline's tomato juice-loving customers protested -- loudly.
Apparently, it wasn't very pleasant for the flight attendants who had to explain that the best they could do is offer Mr. And Mrs. T Bloody Mary mix in place of the beloved tomato juice. Said one flight attendant, "We are once again in full apology mode now onboard our flights, although the issue (of the disappearing tomato juice) is a more minor one compared to the forced removal of customers or suffocating dogs."
It didn't take long for United Airlines to get the message. Yesterday, the airline announced that it was bringing tomato juice back. According to a statement issued by United:
"We want our customers to know that we value and appreciate them and that we're listening. Our customers told us that they were not happy about the removal of tomato juice so we're bringing it back onboard as part of our complimentary beverage offering."
While I personally wouldn't have missed having a glass of tomato juice on my next United flight (I'm more of a craft beer kind of guy), I guess many people would. So to those United Airlines customers who protested, I raise my glass. You spoke, loudly, and United listened. And that's what great businesses do.