Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
At Southwest Airlines, employees are encouraged to express themselves.
To dance around in TV ads, for example.
Or to be funny.
Here, then, was a Southwest flight that came upon a mysterious companion, flying parallel on its right.
This happens often on certain routes.
Sometimes, it’s fascinating to see how long the planes will continue to travel side by side.
Sometimes, you might even wonder how close the other plane truly is.
In this case, a passenger was filming, as a Flight Attendant or pilot made an announcement:
Ladies and gentlemen on the right side of the aircraft, look over to your right. You’ll see United. Wave to them so they get to see what a full aircraft looks like.
Some passengers laughed, of course.
And it’s an excellent example of how Southwest can boast a strong brand while United’s is, well, in transition.
Some might think, though, that this wasn’t a gesture of solidarity toward the friendly skies.
I asked United what it thought of this barb. Stunningly, the airline declined to comment.
I also contacted Southwest to ask for its view.
“Our Employees like to have fun with our Customers. This sounds like some friendly banter with a competitor and friend of the skies,” a Southwest spokeswoman told me.
Friend of the skies. Ah, very good.
There’s largely little competition between the big four airlines.
Yes, they nibble at each other around the edges. They can even make barbs.
Why, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker earlier this year referred to Southwest as “the cattle car.”
While I, of course, applaud Southwest for its readiness to be quippy, there’s one rational element that niggles here.
I’d much rather fly on an empty plane than a full one.
Indeed, research has regularly shown that the biggest difference between an enjoyable Economy Class experience and a less enjoyable one is whether the seat next to you is empty.
Then again, airlines have constructed things so cleverly these days that there seem very few empty seats anywhere.