Perception is everything

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Heathrow  and no queues

Heathrow and no queues which is what it should be

Checking in for a flight out of terminal 5 at Heathrow, I was surprised that at 5.30am, the queue snaked the width of the area and then curved and continued back towards check-in.

This could have been as long as 60 metres, possibly longer.

Some people heading to the back of the queue were heard muttering that this was unacceptable and it would take an age to get through. Another gave thanks that she had arrived early. Yet another remarked that it was unacceptable and in that age-old comment when a person doesn’t know the answer, “something should be done.”

In fact the queue moved quickly, no more than seven minutes from the back to the new exit check that came in last April.

But perception is crucial. If there is a queue that people perceive to be long then it doesn’t matter how long it takes o get to the front, it suggests that it is going to take a while. No matter that terminal 5 has those little signs that show the length of queues by the number of little stick figure it portrays (there were three showing) it means nothing if an untidy line of people suggests otherwise.

It isn’t as if the problem is unsolvable. The airport already uses concertina lines for checking whether you are carrying more liquids than you should so why not just set up a similar system at the boarding pass check? It looks neater, takes up less room and doesn’t suggest that the queue is very long because it is difficult to judge its length.


Instead you only hear the moans and groans that I did. It is just a little feature that can upset passengers and put them off using Heathrow at all but surely, after three months, the airport should have got this right?


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