Teaching Case - Queuing Theory to the Rescue: Managing Security Screening Lines at Logan Airport

Queuing Theory to the Rescue: Managing Security Screening Lines at Logan Airport


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  • Product Description

    Lines at airports, at the ticket counter, security screening or at the gate, make air travel a stressful experience. Queues are especially problematic during peak travel periods when space and processing capacity are constrained. These are the concerns on the mind of an Assistant Federal Security Director as she plans for the expansion of flights at one of Boston Logan Airport's terminals. Space limitations restrict the number of screening lanes. Moreover, adding staff on the existing lanes staff is costly and faces rapidly diminishing returns. Nevertheless the Director must meet screening throughput and wait time targets as well as keep the line from stretching from security out the door. The director applies queuing theory to determine the art of the possible and what is feasible at Logan. The reader is introduced to basic queuing modeling and challenged to determine the optimal number of lanes and staffing of those lanes at the Logan terminal.

    Learning objective:
    The core objective of the case is to apply basic queuing logic to assess a line throughput process. In completing the case assignments, students learn the impact of arrival and process rates as well as cutoffs in managing lines. They also see the tension between increasing capacity, through more stations or greater productivity at each station, and costs. The students also are exposed to the impact of line length on processing time and costs.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: September 17, 2015
    HKS Case Number: 2049.0
    Case Author: Dante Perez
    Faculty Lead: Mark Fagan
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 15
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: 2010-2015
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
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