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Having now cleared customs and immigration in a number of countries in different parts of the world, I can see how it’s really easy to foment anger by not looking after the little things.

Arriving after a red eye, people are not at there best. They might be in a country where they don’t speak the language, are not used to the customs and rituals, and concerned about their trip (getting through immigration, making it to a connecting flight, etc). Especially if traveling with dependants, the concern might be compounded over the responsibility for the loved one.

The situation can be a powder keg for rage between passengers or between passengers and staff. Some of the things that I’ve seen that have made the experience better:

  • Many attendants or volunteers. When there are an over abundant amount of multilingual greeters, their ability to answer questions can reduce anxiety immediately. Especially at the end of a queue.
  • High ceilings, especially in queuing areas.
  • A single queue that continues to move. It beats trying to place Plinko with the customs queues and reduces queue confusion, which is probably the leading cause of airport anger.
  • Snaked queues to prevent queue spillage.
  • A re-queuing queue. A few days ago, I found myself in a situation where it seems like the attendants were deliberately trying to create Fight Club by telling visitors to bump ahead of others.

We can take the same idea and prevent UX in other areas from turning good people into rabid ones.

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