I discovered the Zeitgeist blog when Bill Geist linked to my piece on yield management in travel, and what it's done to the experience. And discovered his excellent list of Air Laws -- the new rules designed to restore civilized behavior to air travel, ensure that space hogs don't take up all the storage, and that big guys get the emergency exit row seats. [I confess I don't totally support that one, unless we could reduce the height restriction to 5'8" ...]
Law #8 about crowding around baggage carousels particularly resonated because the baggage thing seems so unnecessarily badly designed.
All it takes is for a few people to crowd in, and then no one can see. You can't enforce polite behavior, but you can design things in such a way that they signal what is expected. I've spent countless hours waiting for my bag and observing this phenomenon in detail, and have a couple of ideas.
- Signal a no-crowding zone with different floor markings, perhaps even vertical elements like short pillars that show people where they are supposed to stand. These seem to do the trick nicely to prevent people crowding the exits in airports -- those waiting for arriving passengers to leave the secure baggage area.
[I learned via Bill that a guy named Chris Maland has built a web site dedicated to this idea. I prefer my no-crowding zone name to his proposal.]
- Build angled mirrors over the carousel, just like the cooking shows have. So we can see if our bag has arrived even if the front is crowded
- Put a video camera on the business end of the chute with several large screens, so you can monitor without crowding.
Of course, none of these measures will help those who obsessively check every black bag tag to be sure it's not theirs. [Buddy, see those red plaid ribbons? Keep your paws off.]