With long lines everywhere this summer, our regular columnist Molly Quell thinks we should bring back the Covid-proof queues.
I watched with fascination and horror on Friday night as a near-riot broke out on my plane as passengers attempted to disembark. The flight was more than an hour delayed and numerous people were late for connecting flights. Stress levels were already running high, as lines in security had been long and airport cafes shut, all due of course to personnel shortages.
I was in the luxury position of simply being able to wait on the tarmac at Schiphol. I only needed to catch a train home.
There are queues everywhere this summer. It isn’t just Schiphol that has problems. I had a 6-hour delay on the Eurostar returning from the UK last week because there was not enough staff to check passports and scan bags.
French police pepper-sprayed Liverpool fans waiting in line for a football match. Germans are complaining about waiting in line behind Dutch people at petrol stations. Brits have been upset by having long waits for passport control in Spain, discovering that Brexit in fact means Brexit.
We need a return to Covid crowd management.
The last time I defended Covid-related restrictions, Facebook commenters came for me with pitchforks and torches. I get it, some people had a much harder time during the glorious period without social obligations and work travel. Regardless of how you felt about lockdowns, we can all agree that proper queue management was a major benefit.
During Covid, my local market roped off a single line where everyone waited, complete with chalked markings on the group to note the required social distancing. That’s gone and has been replaced with the old-fashioned system of the employees shouting ‘Who was next?’ while people crowd around boxes of tomatoes and peppers, elbowing one another.
The lines at Schiphol are also no longer socially distanced, so not only do I have to stand in line for four hours, I have to smell the breath of the British stag party behind me while I do it.
I don’t think that floor stickers telling everyone to stay 1.5 metres apart while in a security line will make the process faster, but it might keep people from getting so annoyed they rush the security gates.
Perhaps an upgrade to the Covid-lines would be the Cool Blue lines. Last week, I had to take something in from repair and upon entering the store, was given a number. At the customer service counter, the numbers were clearly indicated. They even had free coffee and tea.
Rather than getting irritated in a line with screaming babies, impatient business travelers and people who still cannot figure out that they need to take their belt off before going through a metal detector, I spent my waiting time shopping. It’s a smart move on Cool Blue’s part. You’re a lot more likely to buy something when you kill time trying out headphones and ogling fancy TVs.
Plus, if we start practicing proper queuing now, we’ll be more prepared for the inevitable winter lockdown.
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