News Stories

Why We Hate Waiting in Line

These days, flying to another city or country involves a lot of waiting in line. First we wait in the TSA line, then--at the end of the trip--we wait in line to get our luggage. When Houston airport started getting complaints from customers about having to wait for their checked baggage to arrive, they increased the number of baggage handlers, but that didn't help.

They found that it took passengers a minute to walk from their arrival gates to the baggage claim and seven more minutes to get their bags, meaning that 88% of their timewas spent standing around waiting for their luggage. So the airport moved the arrival gates away from the main carousel in the main terminal to one farther away. It took six times longer to walk there, but complaints dropped to almost zero. The conclusion? People don't like to wait in lines, and Americans spend about 37 billion hours each year doing just that.

In the August 19th edition of the New York Times, Alex Stone quotes researcher Richard Larson as saying, "Often the psychology of queuing is more important than the statistics of the wait itself" because, Stone writes, "occupied time (walking to baggage claim) feels shorter than unoccupied time (standing at the carousel). Research on queuing has shown that, on average, people overestimate how long they’ve waited in a line by about 36%.

"All else being equal, people who wait less than they anticipated leave happier than those who wait longer than expected."

But the biggest problem with waiting in line may have to do with our perception of fairness. Stone writes: "Surveys show that many people will wait twice as long for fast food, provided the establishment uses a first-come-first-served, single-queue ordering system as opposed to a multi-queue setup. Anyone who’s ever had to choose a line at a grocery store knows how unfair multiple queues can seem; invariably, you wind up kicking yourself for not choosing the line next to you moving twice as fast."

What is time? Is it the same thing as synchronicity? (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to these shows). And what do the Visitors have to do with all this? Stay tuned to unknowncountry.com to find out more--and subscribe today, so we'll still be here to tell you about it!



I DO HATE waiting in line. >:(

And I hate waiting behind you, paying in all change. :)

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