For the non-EU flights in Schiphol (at least where we were), they place a metal detector at each gate, instead of having a central bank of metal detectors that everybody goes through. And I can’t figure out why. This seems like the worst possible solution from a queuing theory point of view: you get your best utilization when you spread out the arrival of people into queues, but what they do instead is to artificially delay people from entering the queue and then process everybody all at once. Which means that it takes ages to actually get onto the plane once they start calling rows.

So what’s going on here? Imagine if they took those metal detectors and put them all in a big, shared bank: you’d show up, there would be a hundred or so metal detectors that you’d go through, and you’d never have to wait in line for more than a minute or two, I’d imagine. So what benefit do they get out of their current arrangement? Does it somehow use staff more efficiently? If there is any gain there, I don’t think it’s a huge one, and I’m sure they could improve both time and staffing with a smaller number of shared metal detectors. Is there some benefit in having most of the airport before the metal detectors instead of after metal detectors? Yes, I suppose, since you can actually see your friends and family off at the gate; I’ve gotten so used to not being able to do that that it hardly registered, but I guess that’s a good idea. Is there something about the construction of the airport that makes a shared bank (or multiple shared banks) of metal detectors impractical? Not clear to me one way or another. Something else I’m missing? Or is it just a mistake?

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