Lisbon Airport
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

When Is Cutting In Line Acceptable?

That is the queue. What is the A?

With almost 7.9 billion people that are currently alive in the world today — and the population of the world is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to this article from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations — waiting in line for a service or a product is inevitable…

When Is Cutting In Line Acceptable?

…but when is cutting in line considered to be acceptable?

If you have earned elite status in a membership program with an airline, a lodging company, or a rental car company, chances are that you are given a separate dedicated line in which you are permitted by the company to use — even if some people in the main queue may believe that what you are actually doing is cutting the line.

With some companies, you can even pay for the privilege of cutting the line — although you are not really cutting in line — and this is where the line starts to blur, so to speak.

A photojournalist at WAGA-TV Fox 5 News in Atlanta walked up to a woman at the airport at approximately 4:00 in the morning as she was giving a fellow traveler $100.00 — as that fellow traveler was already waiting in a long line for a flight which was operated by Southwest Airlines — so that she and her two children could cut into the line for a chance to change to a different flight and be able to get home sooner.

If the woman paid the person to trade places — that is, she takes the place of the traveler she paid, who goes to her place further back in line — then that may be considered acceptable…

…but if she paid to stand in front of that person, then she inconveniences all of the other people behind them — and they were not compensated for the additional time or inconvenience of having to wait longer in line: what if the woman spent 30 minutes trying to change her flight itinerary? Why did she choose the traveler in question over any of the other travelers?

Even a mere couple of minutes can add up into a domino effect. How many times have you waited in a line at a traffic light during rush hour when the light turns green and some driver in a vehicle in front of you decides to let someone from a driveway into the queue — only to have you miss that green light and wait at least another cycle?

When a person intruded into a line, this resulted in an objection 54 percent of the time, according to a study by the American Psychological Association and reported in its Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which was done to determine how often and which people would object to having someone cut in line. However, the objections increased to 91.3 percent of the time when two people intruded at once. 73.3 percent of objections came from people behind the intruder, and the person directly behind the point of intrusion objected most frequently.

Final Boarding Call

I am all for doing what I can to help the life of a fellow human being be more convenient — even if it is only a minor gesture at best — and children can potentially be an added burden when what was supposed to be a smooth travel experience goes awry…

…but without including other groups of people who either are entitled — or believe they are entitled — to special treatment, what is to stop other adults with children from paying to cut in front of that line? Is the time of the other people not as valuable?

If the reason is for an actual emergency situation — such as racing to get to a close relative before he or she dies — that may be one scenario that everyone who is already waiting in line may understand…

…but in many other scenarios, people have no business cutting in line — whether or not they pay for the “privilege” — as doing so unnecessarily inconveniences other people.

I personally have never purposely cut in front of someone else in line — with or without some form of compensation…

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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