Monday, June 10, 2024

Rethinking Systems

I absolutely need to get TSA PreCheck. I’ve been putting it off until I get my new address in Delaware after I officially move. It’ll happen soon, but until then I’m still relegated to the long line of regular people at airport security checkpoints. It’s fine. But, my goodness, TSA could truly use a consultant to improve their systems.

What drives me the most nuts is the total lack of communication in the lanes. It would be so simple to put up a sign on each lane clearly stating what comes out of bags and what stays in. One lane has you remove your bag of liquids while the other shouts at you to keep it in your carry-on. And one lane has you take your laptop out of its case while another has you take it out of your bag but leave it in its case, while yet another has you keep it all in your bag.


With no signage on each lane as to their specifications, passengers must wait until they’re within earshot of the TSA employee who is so frustrated with saying the same thing over and over again that they come off as very angry when they bellow, “laptops out!” If you ask, they snap at you as if you should know. If you don’t ask and get it wrong, they snap harder. It’s not a good system. The TSA team members are quite obviously frustrated with the shouting system and passengers are sucked of their joy be encountering said shouting TSA team members, when all it would take is a simple sign at the start of each lane outlining what should be done. This would save a ton of time too, as people could prepare ahead of time instead of waiting for the shout to then act, when people are backed up behind them.


And what’s the deal with airline boarding zones? Why do the window seat people always board last? Why does the back of the plane board last? Wouldn’t it save a ton of time and angst if they boarded from the back to the front, and from window to aisle?


Another passenger I was seated next to recently explained this to me: boarding is done by status, not logic or seat placement. Those with more miles or higher status board first. It’s an ego thing. Those people spend more money and therefore are treated better and get the prime choice of overhead bin space. It’s not efficient or logical, but simply marketing.


And I get this. I’m all about airline miles and I covet my diamond status with my preferred hotel chain. But when it comes to boarding, truly there must be a better way.


Simply dedicating an overhead bin space for each seat would do it. That’s your space and no one else can put their bag there, so it doesn’t matter what order you board in. Then, First Class and precious clients of the airline can enjoy more elbow room and air in the terminal, boarding last instead of first, and not have to sit in their seats on the plane for an extra half hour while they get whacked in the head by everyone’s backpack as they walk by to board behind them. Makes sense, right?


So, TSA, airlines, and the like, do yourselves and hire an efficiency consultant. Don’t assume that the way it is is the way it has to always be. There are simple solutions to these huge bottlenecks you’re experiencing and easy ways to vastly improve morale.


And to every other business out there, keep in mind that there’s often a better way. Hire a fresh set of eyes to look at your operations, dig into your financials, survey your clients and team members to find frustration points, and rethink systems to improve efficiency, morale, and the bottom line.

Marty Johnson is the Communication and Vision Coach at AYM High Consultants, a columnist, and an editor, producing the mail and business center industry's leading magazine, MBC Today. In 2023, he sold his popular and growing brand, Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office, and retired from shopkeeper life to focus on writing and coaching. Subscribe to his Ask Uncle Marty™ newsletter and read more at; follow him on socials @askunclemarty. #AskUncleMarty

Article written June 8, 2024, for co-publication on the and blogs.

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