Choose The Left Line Instead Of The Right For A Possibly Shorter Wait

Choose The Left Line Instead Of The Right For A Possibly Shorter Wait

No one likes waiting on line, especially when it seems like everyone else’s line is moving faster. If you have to choose a direction — left or right — you might have better luck going to the left, where lines tend to be shorter.

I read this tip on several forums and guidebooks to surviving notoriously long lines at theme parks, including this Woman’s Day article. The theory is that left lines tend to be shorter because the majority of people are right-handed and tend to unconsciously choose things on the right. We do that when choosing movie theatre seats and when shopping.

Of course, other factors will play into how fast a line moves and how many people are on it, including how many items each person has (in a checkout line) and superstition, but, all other things being equal, try going against the grain and veer left instead of right.

Picture: Random Retail/Flickr


  • If the lines are close enough, I tend to stand in the middle and if asked which line I’m in, I reply with “Both!”.

    Multi-lines are so 2005, get with the times! All it takes is some metal poles joined by some tape.

  • I wonder how this works in places where we drive/walk on the left, like here in the Aus. Does that counteract the right handed tendency for lining up on the right?

    • Quite possibly. I’m pretty certain that the left queue isn’t the quickest one in Aus from my observations. Though I think with supermarkets there are too many random factors that can effect the queue length. You just need one price check and you’re predicted shorter queue is suddenly the longer waiting time. Self checkout isn’t always the quickest option either because the machines are really picky and why should I bother to learn the nuances of their machines when I can just let someone do all the work for me?

  • I thought that the theme park lines in the US are longer on the right, but in Aus, left are longer. That article mentioned is also US-centric, not Aus.

  • Does this depend on whether you are in a drive on the right or drive on the left country?

    I remember many years ago I got off a Eurail train with an American girl I had just met. We walked along a subway under the platforms. I was on the right. When we got to the T intersection at the end where there was no indication which was the “correct” way to turn we collided because she wanted to turn right and I wanted to turn left. For each of us that was the safest and easiest turn when driving because you don’t have to cross the traffic.

    This factor may influence the effect described in this article.

  • Pick the longest lane, purposely blocking off the walkway for people still shopping , no turning the trolly sideways to allow people passed and ….Hey presto, another checkout lane opens!

  • Yeah. I feel this is just a really strange way of saying ‘choose the shortest line, trivia ‘it’s often the left line’.

    It’s good advice for the blind though I guess.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!