Queueing Theory

Steve Jones, 2007-08-11

There has been tons of work over the last few decades on queueing theory, mainly in regard to operating systems and scheduling, but more and more with business intelligence systems, it’s being applied to other fields to increase efficiency. Supply chains, inventory management, product placement (physical), etc., all can benefit.

I think it’s time that the airlines get on the ball. After our airplane had issues yesterday a number of us had to line up to get rebooked. It was kind of a mess, very unorganized and slow. There was one point where we must have had a long line for 30-40 people and an airline rep walked to the front of the line, where I was #3 and told us we should go down to another gate where there were other agents. It made some sense to split the load up, but the end of the line was closer to the other gate. If I’d walked away, I would have ended up the and END of another line rather than at the front of the line I was in.

That’s probably basic common sense, but couldn’t airline computers quickly calculate that there were 8 people going to Denver, 12 to Chicago, 6 to Atlanta, etc. and quickly rebook seats? They certainly seem to spend lots of brain and computational power on pricing. You’d think they’d put a little on queueing and make their entire operation more streamlined.     

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