5 Motives For Why People Line Up

As I was returning from a business on a Thursday evening, quite a few of us began assembling in the A1-30 and 31-60 queues at the Southwest Airlines gate.  By the time the attendant arrived to announce the boarding sequence we were almost all lined up and ready to walk aboard.  He looked at us, smiled, and began with, “well I guess you all know what to do.”

We did know and most of us smiled in response.

The process of lining up for a Southwest Airlines flight is embedded in the folklore of American travel culture, and there are other good examples, as well.  Here are some reasons why people line up before they are given direction to do so:

  • They understood that by lining up with little commotion they are creating an efficiency of time from which they can benefit.
  • By lining up on their own they are more likely to attain their goal of reaching their destination on time (or maybe early).
  • Most people are considerate of others and lining up in advance increases the opportunity for them to benefit.
  • Lining up independently improves the chance that you are in the right line (you are more likely to check and see where you belong) or that you see any error early and move to the right place.
  • Lining up without direction helps everyone to identify the folks that truly need assistance.

Lining up for a Southwest Airlines flight is also a great example of self-management – acting on your own good intentions in cooperation with the aspirations of others.   I wonder if they can eliminate the attendant scanning the ticket someday….