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If You Want to Cut in Line at the Airport, Tip Me

Byron Landry


If you travel by air, you wait long enough: security lines, check-in lines, lines to board, even lines for mediocre restaurants. With shattered supply chains and worrying worker shortages, your prudent passenger now sets aside three hours of their day for the irritating airport. But some of you (and you know who you are) have clearly not opened the email. You waltz into the terminal with minutes to spare, dragging hard-top spinners and guitar cases, with the air of reality show contestants failing a physical challenge. And when you reach the queue to print your boarding pass or have your body scanned, you have the audacity to demand that those who arrived before you let you cut in line. Where do you get the nerve? 


I’ll tell you. You do it because we let you do it. 


The rest of us are kind-hearted, conscientious people. We’ve all missed flights before, and when we hear your sob story (My flight is leaving in thirty seconds, I’m going to miss my sister’s wedding in Madrid, my pancreas is going to explode if I don’t make this layover to Cincinnati), our hearts melt. What does it cost us, we ask ourselves, to help this stranger out? Only a minute or two of our time—a drop in the bucket of our terrible travel day. But as one after another bad planner pushes past us, we begin to balk. Why should we have to idle for hours in our least favorite place while these johnnies-come-lately stroll past us? Do the math: if you push past a hundred people on your path to the ticket counter, then take two minutes to offload your scuba gear and collect your boarding pass, you’ve robbed your fellow travelers of over three hours of chronological currency. 


So if you’re out there, inconsiderate cutters of the air, I have three words for you: time is money. Next time you want me to make way for you and yours, I suggest you shell out. Don’t I deserve some compensation for my time? I’m not asking for much: just a couple of bucks. Hit me with a fiver. Throw me a bone. Don’t carry cash? Venmo it. You think I’m a jerk for giving you the squeeze? I invite you to consider who the true jerk is: the person who inconveniences everyone else because they can’t set an alarm, or the one who shows up on time and waits their turn? And yes, if everyone expected a little something for their troubles, it would cost you a pretty penny to cut all quarter-thousand of us. But what would it cost you to miss your flight? And honestly, how many of you are really in a rush? Or are you just like the rest of us—sick of standing, weary of waiting, and ready to get to where we want to go? So I say, make a choice: slip me a tip for my precious time, or get with the program and get in line.


If you enjoyed today’s moot, follow Byron Landry on Twitter. If you are feeling generous, consider donating to The Nature Conservancy, Byron’s charity of choice.

*For each moot, we generate a cover image using  DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'If You Want to Cut in Line at the Airport, Tip Me' in the style of Odilon Redon, Byron's artist of choice.*

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