A man waiting in line at the airport

Line of Might: Up Your Airport Waiting Line Game

Left could be the right turn.

Check in.  Security.  Immigration.  Even Duty Free.  It can feel like half your summer vacation is spent stood in line at the airport.  Stood in line watching all those other lines, which are definitely going faster than yours… 

Of course, we should all just be more zen, and accept that the line we’re in will go as fast or slow as it goes, and there’s nothing we can do about it. 

But what if there was…

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the time we spend in them, the mechanics and psychology of lines have been much studied.  And those studies provide some useful lessons for when you’re next faced with the ‘which-line-to-choose’ dilemma. 

First, look left.  Studies have shown that most people, when given the choice, choose to go right, rather than left.  It’s linked to being right-handed, apparently.  So if there’s a choice, buck the trend, follow the southpaws, and head left.

Next, remember that – although it might seem counterintuitive – a single, long line served by more than one attendant is often better than several shorter ‘one-line-per-attendant’ lines.  Because with the latter, all it takes is one person in your line to get held up, and you’re going nowhere until its resolved. Leaving you helplessly watching the other lines speed through and cursing your choice / bad luck / the airport / your own particular God. 

There’s a psychological aspect too: in the multi-attendant line, you’re more like to be frequently moving forward (if only millimetres at a time).  Even if you end up in line for longer, the feeling of making progress – however small – is likely to keep your stress levels down, and leave you feeling less irritable it’s finally out the other side.

And of course, when it comes to airport queuing, there are things you can do to help – and not just yourself but others too.  You’re know the deal with airport security checks by now. So don’t leave a bottle of water right at the bottom of your hand luggage.

Don’t wear trousers that will only stay up with a belt.  

And don’t try out your new ‘bomb in my bag’ joke with the security staff …

In short, don’t be that guy.

You’re out of line (hopefully).