Time to change how we queue?

An interesting and provocative piece in the BBC magazine recently on research suggesting our conventions on queues are all wrong. Instead of the normal, long standing first-come-first-served approach, researchers in Denmark have suggested it should be the other way around…the people you serve first should be the ones who join the queue last.


The traditional model is accepted to meet the need for fairness.  The researchers argue this is inefficient as, in a desire to get served first, people arrive and join the queue too early. They give the example of airlines with no reserved seating – we’ve all seen how everyone tends to stand up way before the plane is ready to try and bag a place near the front of the queue and get the seat they want. In their experiments, reversing the logic means people over a staggered period and wait for shorter times.  However they do acknowledge that there would be a number of real life situations where it would be impractical.

Sounds on the face of it like an interesting experiment in behaviour but it seems to have some practical and perception hurdles before it could be adopted.

Anyone come across other models or thoughts where this might work?

David is Managing Director at CCD.

David Watts, Managing Director


David Watts

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