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July 7, 2008

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Head for the Black Diamond

Smart, informative post over on the Transportation Security Administration’s blog (I know!) about the new “Diamond Lane Program” that lets travelers self-select into three groups: green (for beginners and families), blue (for intermediate travelers), and black (for road warriors).

I’ve been through this a few times at different airports and it actually seems to work really well!

I feel like it ought to be a case study in design school, actually: Given the problem, you immediately assume the solution must have something to do with faster machines, or better-trained employees, or lasers or something. And those things might help — but flipping the script and simply changing the inputs helps a lot, too. Seriously counter-intuitive.

Props to TSA for some good design and public communication to match.

Posted July 7, 2008 at 12:29 | Comments (2) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted


The black diamond is also my hometown's (and probably the world's only) Black Neil Diamond Impersonator.

Posted by: conor on July 7, 2008 at 01:06 PM

I read about this some weeks ago before actually seeing it in practice: my first IRL encounter was at LAX a week ago.

There were two separate lanes: a green and a blue, no black diamond.

The blue lane was clogged by a massive school group, so all experienced travelers bailed for the family lane and got through much faster.

I read an article recently (don't recall where, unfortunately) that it is the act of designating separate lanes that matters; once an initial sort is initiated, experienced travelers will gravitate toward whichever line is shorter... even if the groups cross pollinate, the overall result is still faster throughput, so everyone wins.

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