Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
When this menace comes a-calling, there’s nothing you can do.
You can take calming drugs, perform extra sessions of meditation and enjoy any number of mindfulness exercises you gleaned from your latest self-help book.
In the end, you get to the back of a plane, sit down and attempt to restrict your breathing and movements for as many hours as you can.
Airlines have been squeezing passengers both financially and physically.
The latest is United Airlines.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, United just announced that on its twin-engined Boeing 777-200, it’s going to start shoving ten seats across economy, instead of the already claustrophobic nine.
This is what is know in the airline trade as densification. Not, surprisingly enough, because it was invented by densely insensitive minds.
The simple notion is that if you can squeeze an extra dollar out of a square inch, you will.
It’s a little like department stores. And look what’s happened to them over time.
For you, of course, there’s one great joy from this decision — more middle seats.
However, you’ll be delighted to know that United isn’t the pioneer in this squeezing.
Some of American Airlines’ 777-200s already enjoy a densified atmosphere.
You might notice some of the economy passengers on those planes after they get off, meandering along airports as if they’re auditioning for The Walking Dead.
Airlines know that there’s a limit to these things.
Earlier this year, American (slightly) pulled back from its decision to densify its Boeing 737 Max planes in the severe way it had first announced, but only by removing a row of the more comfortable Premium Economy seating.
Economy passengers should remain grateful, though, for any space they’re given.
Please remember the immortal words of the American Airlines executive speaking about his company’s exalted sense of the dense: “These seats are designed to make efficient use of the space available and feel more spacious, so a 30-inch pitch will feel more like today’s 31 inches.”
As far as United is concerned, it needs to find revenue wherever it can. The airline’s CEO Oscar Munoz admitted this week that the company had dug itself “into a hole.”
I cannot confirm this is what inspired United to place its passengers in a tiny hole too.