Tired of waiting?


Long distance flights reached their peak in the second half of the twenty-first century.

Security checks took hours in long, tortuous queues; airport authorities attempted to employ theme park techniques to distract passengers as it often took longer to check-in and board your plane than to make the flight.

In the end, queues gradually became an integral part of Airport life. They each got their name and their special place in the airport, much like terminals and lounges. At Heathrow, for example, it was called the Queen Victoria Queue and in Madrid, the Pedro Almodóvar Queue.

Each queue was specially designed, and the queues were rated and graded by an international body.

Queue Architecture became a popular branch of architecture and
Architectural queue designers were highly paid professionals and Airport authorities were prepared to pay substantial bonuses for the best queue designs.

There was minute attention to detail. Colours and forms, music and a rich variety of odours were incorporated into each design while Behavioural Psychologists were engaged to ensure that each passenger’s mood was successfully managed.

One major preoccupation was boredom and frustration, so the focus of each design was to entertain and distract passengers by all available means.

Seating and rest nooks were tastefully provided at reasonable distances, and parallel to the walking area there were ambulant play areas for children and restaurants and snack bars advanced at the same pace alongside the other queue passengers.

As expected, the UK took queueing in its stride, but elsewhere there were scuffles and skirmishes, heated tempers and a lot of antisocial behaviour.

Entertaining the queue was seen as a priority and passengers in the line could download games to play and music to listen to, at very reasonable prices. The moving Virtual Reality experience was sought-after but you had to book well in advance.

The management, initially the airport’s responsibility, was eventually outsourced to international queue management companies and they added their branding and ethos to each queue they managed.

Although queues were costly to build and maintain, the actual fees for using them were relatively modest. Even the waiting time to book a place in the queue was reduced from months to a matter of weeks.

Booking structures for air travel were harmonised as well, and after a few initial hiccups, you could book your place in the queue, your seat on the plane, and your parking space, all at the same time.

The primary focus of the queue, of course, was to manage passenger’s expectations. Designers had to ensure that the head of the queue was only discovered at the very last minute and came as an agreeable surprise.

At the end of some queues, musicians played fanfares while other queues employed Robot A-List Personality Lookalikes to greet passengers. Photographers were also at hand, for a modest supplement, to immortalise the event.

If your flight was delayed or cancelled or in the unfortunate eventuality that your flight had already departed you could expect a 50% no quibble rebate on your next queue.

Queues could also be purchased in multipacks and from time to time there were the occasional buy two, get one free offer.

Then, one Monday in July 2062, Rapid Personal International Travel was invented, and it became possible to travel long distances without airplanes, trains or buses.

It rivalled with Air Travel for a few years but eventually there was no further need for airports, terminals or queues and the bottom fell out of the market.

The other day I heard that there are plans to transform airports into theme parks, but that might just be a rumour.

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