Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Launching a new product is always hard.
It’s harder if you’re an airline, because the likelihood is that your new product will represent some way that you’re trying to take more money out of the customer’s pocket without giving them anything in return.
When United joined the baying hordes of airlines desperately trying to expand the enormous girth of their revenue line, it was reasonable to wonder what it might do to the United brand. And, of course, to the customers.
Should you be unfamiliar with this new Basic Economy (my term: Sub-Cattle Class) offering, it doesn’t allow you to use overhead bins, doesn’t allow you to bring a carry-on unless it fits under the seat and doesn’t even assign you a seat until check-in. Oh, and you board last.
All this for an allegedly lower fare. Will it be much lower? No one seems sure.
Still the opposition to Sub-Cattle Class is rising from, well, the Basic Human level.
It feels like the precursor to passengers being nickel-and-dimed for precisely everything. Why, American might soon be charging you for being able to see a movie on some flights.
However, as Samsung found out with the flaming mess of its Note 7 phone, things are really bad when you become the butt of comedians’ jokes.
Oddly, United has got there very quickly.
This week, Ellen DeGeneres used part of her very popular “The Ellen Show” to mercilessly mock United’s Basic Economy.
She presented a parody United Airlines ad that dramatizes the true meaning of Sub-Cattle Class.
Once you’re back there — and it will surely be right at the back, with rear middle seats almost a mark of Sub-Cattle Club membership — things will feel a little different.
Put it this way, have you read Lord Of The Flies?
What you assumed to be human might suddenly not be human anymore.
The certainties of airline travel that you once took for granted will now be but a bizarre mirage.
In introducing this portent of the near-future in travel, Ellen mused: “You can complain about it, but there’s a $30 complaint fee.”
This was a joke. For now, that is.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.