At United Airlines, They're Making a Big Change That Will Save Money. It's Quite Brilliant, In Its Way

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Here’s how I imagine the activity at United Airlines HQ.

Every day, ambitious managers bang their heads against hard objects, desperate to become heroes in the eyes of their president, Scott Kirby.

There’s a suspicion, you see, that Kirby cares more about numbers more than he cares about, say, people.

Still, United’s enthusiasm for cost-cutting rather butts heads with its needs to appear more people-friendly.

Sometimes, though, you have to marvel at the ingenuity with which executives approach this cost-cutting mullarkey.

United’s latest involves going button-free.

No, it’s not going to force its employees to wear zip-up shirts. 

Instead, as Skift’s Brian Sumers reports, a genius who will go far (for free) noticed that the Saks pillowcases in the airline’s Polaris Business Class had buttons.

And they surely thought to themselves: “Why?” 

After several more bangs against a hard object, that genius then must have mumbled: “Buttons fall off. It’s an expense to put them back on. Eureka!”

I contacted United to ask which large mind had conjured this cost-saving and will update.

In its announcement, the airline did say that the gradual switch from buttonfull to buttonless should offer the pillowcases “an extended life cycle.” 

We’d all love one of those, but will that ever be possible?

One tiny issue United has endured with its Saks bedding is that the high-falutin’ Business Class customers steal it.

The airline now has two warnings — or, perhaps, pleadings — to customers not to be so greedy.

Customers, you see, shouldn’t dare to take something for free.

Don’t they know that airlines now charge for absolutely everything?