Which queue will move the fastest and therefore, which one should you join is a question which travelers face at airport security regularly. Everyone has a different way of analyzing the situation. I am constantly under the belief that I have a superior analytical piece of software in my brain which allows me to predict the likelihood of one queue going faster than another and I am not the only one under that belief. What are the factors that would accelerate the movement of one queue over another? First I examine the shorter queue obviously. Next, I examine the composition of the queue; are families and children in the queue, does the queue have too many characters carrying overstuffed hand luggage which is likely to be questioned, or is it a queue with young professionals with light baggage. The last one seems promising. But before I make my move, I also examine the security officer in charge. Does he look bored, lazy, tired or on the verge of leaving for his break. Once I have processed all these factors in a swift glance, I assume my place right behind a professional lot. Then the trouble begins. Eyes dart between my ‘professional’ line where I have invested my fate and the ‘adjoining’ line, which I had considered joining, the security officer and the passengers ahead and if the movement seems to be in equal measure the focus returns to the wait. But if the movement on the ‘adjoining’ line seems to be more
Then the trouble begins. Eyes dart between my ‘professional’ line where I have invested my fate and the ‘adjoining’ line, which I had considered joining, the security officer and the passengers ahead and if the movement seems to be in equal measure the focus returns to the wait. But if the movement on the ‘adjoining’ line seems to be more favorable, a restlessness surfaces which converts into kinetic motion when the line shows promise of a quicker pass through. If my ‘professional’ line continues to remain stubborn and stuck, and if the passenger ahead makes a move to abandon his position in the line for the ‘adjoining’ one, I am quite convinced to move too. But by the time I am fully convinced to move, my ‘professional’ line suddenly begins to show some movement. No sooner I tend to feel that I should continue to stick to my ‘professional’ line than, it gets stuck again and meanwhile several new passengers join the other enticing ‘adjoining’ line and the vantage position I would have assumed seem lost and I am back to assessing the wisdom in the move. Now the ‘professional’ line remains stuck for a very long time and while two or three passengers abandon their position giving me a few paces up the line the prospect of the ‘now harried’ passenger causing the block, finally getting the clearance from the security officer seems hazy and this is when I am fully convinced that I should have jumped ship long back. I also see that the ‘man in the yellow shirt’ has made a wiser move as he has moved way ahead in the ‘adjoining line’ though we had raced toward the queues at the same time, and I evaluate the folly in my assessment and consequently my decision. I finally move only to find to my chagrin that the ‘professional’ line’s biggest block has moved and the subsequent clearances are most rapid. I grimace at myself and resign to stay put on the line without looking at any other line for comparison. I tell myself ‘today is not my day’.
What do you do before joining a queue? Do you have ‘smarter’ techniques?