It’s early Monday morning and somehow you managed to wake up on time for your 7:00 a.m. flight. You gave yourself two hours to get to the airport, return your rental car, check your bags, go through security, and make it to your gate. However, when you arrive to the airport, the line for security is extremely long and there are no signs that it’s moving. After waiting in line for what seems like forever, you finally make it to your gate only to realize that your plane has left without you. We have all been there.
If only you could have known how long the security lines were before you left home so you could have given yourself extra time. Enter TripIt. According to a spokesperson for the app, “TripIt Pro now monitors security checkpoint lines and lets travelers know how long the wait is for the checkpoints near their gate. To help travelers plan ahead, TripIt will send users an alert three hours before a flight showing them the current wait times—so they know what to expect when they arrive. Travelers can then check the TripIt app for real-time updates.” TripIt will also merge the TSA wait data with commercially available traffic-flow information and airline flight status to advise travelers when to start driving to the airport, based on their GPS location.
A waiting line is when one or more customers are waiting for a service and long waiting lines tend to develop because there is a temporary imbalance between the demand for service and the capacity of the system to provide the service. More often than not the rate of producing the service also varies, depending on customer needs. In the case of airport security, the customer population differs drastically depending on the day of the week, time of day, or the number of flights.
Airport security lines follow the traditional structure of waiting-line problems and there are four common elements to all situations:
- An input, or customer population (travelers)
- A waiting line of customers (the airport security line)
- The service facility consisting of a person or machine necessary to perform the service for the customer (TSA agent)
- A priority rule, which selects the next customer to be served by the service facility (the next person in the security line)
According to TripIt’s Director of Product Jen Moyse, over time as the technology matures, security line wait-time data “should be part of your travel plans” especially for business travelers with tight schedules. TripIt will present travelers with the ultimate piece of the puzzle that allows them to waste as little time as possible. “The simple knowledge of how long it will take them to get through security is reducing traveler anxiety and increasing satisfaction for one of the most stressful stages of modern-day travel.”
The app is targeting most of the 30 largest airports in the U.S. which account for almost 85 percent of all annual U.S airline passengers. TripIt is ranked 4.8 out of 5 stars in the app store and is available for subscription for $49 per year.