Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Queue Management and the TSA

After visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, coming back through the airport in Orlando showed me just how badly the TSA is managing their queues.

If you fly only once a year like I do, and you arrive at the security line, do you know what you'll need to do once you reach the end of the line? How do you learn that? Apparently, you get to the front of the line to have an irritated, low-wage government employee bark unintelligible commands while the line backs up behind you. And woe if English isn't your native language. Surely there's a better way.

Now, I'm no expert in queue management. Apparently there's an entire discipline of study in that area. But I am a graphic designer, at least sometimes, and I do design materials that help people learn how to complete a task. In this case, the TSA had me in line for about 15 minutes. In that time, I could have watched a video screen show me step-by-step what to do when I reached the screener. Or I could have looked at a series of static displays graphically showing what to do with my bag, my laptop, my phone, my shoes, and whatever else.

Worried about who's going to pay for improved queues? Again, I was a captive audience for 15 minutes. What advertiser doesn't drool at that idea? Come on, this is first year b-school stuff. Either I'm missing something, or someone at TSA doesn't want to do this stuff, because if I can think of a half-dozen ways to improve the process of getting through the line, people who know about this stuff can do better.

And they're not. And that pisses me off.

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