Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Never imagine that life is fair.
The best you can hope for is poetry.
Poetry can even lift pain to the level of art and greed to the level of pity.
Which brings me to Harvard economics professor Jason Furman.
You might imagine that most Harvard professors fly private.
Or at least First Class.
Yet Furman, for reasons of his own, flew Spirit Airlines.
Should you not be familiar with the yellow-bellied joy, it’s a budget airline that used to have a bad rap and is trying hard to at least get some positive rhythms from the people.
It styles itself as the Home of the Bare Fare. Which some people deem bare-faced nickel-and-diming.
Of course, we know that some budget airlines can be extremely entertaining in the way that they present their offerings.
It’s the sort of thing legacy airlines aspire to.
Furman, though, was suddenly hit with a $55 charge for his carry-on.
This compared unfavorably with the $49 his ticket cost him.
So he took to Twitter to explain how his emotions had been twisted.
The economist in me loves that Spirit Airways charged me $49 for a ticket and $55 for a carry-on bag. But there is a lot more inside me than just an economist.
— Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) February 1, 2018
In this age where algorithms make decisions and airlines delight in every nickel they can pinch after you’ve paid for your ticket, Furman’s tweet offers a poetic dichotomy.
Is it better to treat customers like humans?
Or is it best to subject them to ruses, such as advertising an exceptionally cheap price and then weighing them down with additional charges?
Of course, it’s largely done to convince not only humans, but search engines that your fares are so utterly generous that you leap upon them without thinking.
I asked Spirit for its thoughts and will add them on to the words here, if I hear.
But we’re all more than economic agents.
Humanity involves a few things on the emotional side.
And those are the parts that airlines choose to ignore most of all.