Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why it is counterproductive to let passengers know how long waiting lines are

People say that knowledge is power. The more knowledge, the more power. Suppose you knew the winning numbers for the lottery?  What would you do? You would run to the store and mark those numbers on the play card. And you would win.

Same for airports? Suppose you knew the waiting time at checkpoints like at Dulles International Airport. What would you do? Experience shows that when there is not much waiting time passengers tend to dwell and get to the checkpoint later. Which may create a problem later. It also shows that when there is long waiting time passengers tend to go to the checkpoint immediately. Which increases the problem now.

I think that airports should endeavor to steer the passengers indirectly based on the information they have. They may wait to announce gates until they see that there is capacity at checkpoints. They may change gates of arriving flights or bring passengers to other arrival halls.

Airport business is full of decisions and judgements and guesses, and also looking outside of the box.

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