Ramblings & ephemera

The psychology of waiting for your luggage at the airport

From Dan Ariely’s “Flying Frustrations” (21 November 2011):

Think about these two ways to get your luggage: With the original airport design, you walk ten minutes, but when you finally get to the carousel, your baggage gets there a minute after you (taking 11 minutes). In the other, you walk three minutes, but when you arrive you have to wait five minutes for your luggage (taking 8 minutes). The second scenario is faster, but people become more annoyed with the process because they have more idle time. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr. noted, “I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely.

The “good news” is that airports quickly reverted to their former (inefficient) system, and we now walk farther to our suitcases just to avoid the frustrations of idleness.

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