Monday, August 31, 2015

What the Government Can Learn from Restaurants and Disney

The New York Sun has a great column by Ira Stoll comparing his wait at Disney World (or even local restaurants) to his wait in TSA lines. Disneyland has wait times posted and updated and fun activities along the wait line. Restaurants have vibrating pagers so you can do something else while you wait other than hover around the seating point. TSA has none of that.
On a family vacation in Florida last week, I waited in a 30 minute line to board a roller coaster called the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The time flew by.
The ride’s designers had taken a series of steps to make the wait less onerous than it otherwise might be. There was a sign at the beginning of the line telling me how long a wait to expect. The time listed on the sign was accurate — maybe even a few minutes high, so that by the end I was pleased that the line had moved more quickly than I expected. There were activities along the line — video games to play, kaleidoscope-projecting, gem-filled barrels to turn — to occupy impatient children and adults during the wait.
. . .
The airport was a totally different story. The wait at the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint seemed designed to impose frustration rather than ease it. There was no sign telling us how long the wait was. Instead, I was handed a sheet of paper with the handwritten time I arrived, and I was told to turn the paper in when I finally reached the metal detector so that the government could find out how long the wait is. Disney knows how long its wait is and tells customers what to expect. The government has no idea how long its wait is and asks customers to help it find out.
In the government’s airport security line, there were no fun activities to entertain or distract those waiting.
. . .
You don’t have to be Disney to get lines right. Even restaurant chains like Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack give customers vibrating pagers to make waits more palatable. Imagine if the TSA gave you a pager so you could shop or eat in the airport until it was your turn to make it through the metal detector.
Stoll points out that politicians seem uninterested in the troubles of waiting passengers because they often avoid the stress because they can (and do) take private flights where there is not long waiting line.
Perhaps one reason the politicians don’t get it is that they themselves often avoid commercial air travel. It’s not just Air Force One or Donald Trump’s private jet. Military or private jet travel extends to officials like the FBI director and the attorney general. The FBI has not one but two Gulfstream V jets. Even Congress gets a special deal. As a senator, Hillary Clinton reportedly took more than 200 privately chartered flights. The rules allow her senate office or her campaign to pay the much lower commercial rate. When John Boehner took over as speaker of the House, he made a big show of not taking military aircraft the way Nancy Pelosi used to. But a New York Times account reported, “There was no waiting for Mr. Boehner, who was escorted around the identification-checking agents, the metal detectors and the body scanners, and whisked directly to the gate.”
As with global warming, the big cheeses who speak for limitations and cutbacks like Prince Charles, Pesident Obama and Al Gore, never seem to cut back their travel or lifestyles to live in the deprived fashion want average people to live. At least Jimmy Carter wore a sweater and turned the heat down in the White House when he asked Americans to cut back their heating for energy conservation. President Obama, by contrast, turned the White House heat up. For modern liberals the masses are supposed to sacrifice, not the leaders.


MAX Redline said...

Yep - even at Sunnyside hospital they hand you one of those round vibrating pagers so that you know when it's your turn to check in - and they have newspapers and televisions to occupy the time.

I find it interesting that Obama is burning jet fuel to go to Alaska to lecture us all about Global Warming.

T. D. said...

Another example of President Obama being above the little people and really underlining that the global warming situation isn't that crucial.

Good for Sunnyside hospital. It also shows that they know a little something about helping people to come through stressful times in a more healthful way. Think how little in the scheme of things vibrating pagers, newspapers, magazines and a couple of TVs in a big room cost.

MAX Redline said...

really underlining that the global warming situation isn't that crucial.

Amusingly, he called upon Congress to speed up construction of icebreakers, even as he claimed that the icecaps are melting. An amazing disconnect, there.

Yes, Sunnyside hospital's a pretty busy place, so it takes some time to get admitted - even if you're just there for an MRI, it's a medical procedure, so you have to be admitted and tagged. The pagers are a nice touch; the newspapers aren't months old, and you can take some time to grab a coffee or browse around without losing your place in line. It really de-stresses a lot of folks.

T. D. said...

Yes--ordering more ice breakers! Max, your post on the absurdity of this was great.