Why it might be time to change the way we queue

Sep 11, 2015 at 4:05 a.m. ET
Image: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Brits love to queue. Or possibly they hate to queue but love being martyrs by queuing for as long as humanly possible.

Personally I have a real aversion to queues. I’m always the last to board a plane because the thought of standing in a line with 200 other grouchy people makes me want to rip my skin off.

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So this is for all you queuing obsessives out there. A recent study from the University of Southern Denmark has found that you could be doing it all wrong. Brace yourselves — the research team behind "The curse of the first-in-first-out queue discipline" argues that the best way to deal with a queue is to serve the last person first.

It's based on a theory of efficiency. Basically the traditional first-in-first-served system causes a backlog and increases everybody's waiting time, as it encourages people to join the queue early.

If the last person is attended to first the incentive to get there super early would be removed.

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If you think about it, this makes sense. Turning up right on time, instead of half an hour early, cuts out the dreaded bottleneck and the longest possible wait for everybody. Queue purists may argue that it's simply not fair and that those who are organised and punctual should be rewarded by being attended to first.

But when you consider that we spend around six months of our lives waiting in queues isn't anything that would reduce this time welcome? Then we could all spend it doing something else British people love to do. Like complaining. About the daft new queuing system, perhaps?

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