In airports, there are some 'choke points' departing or arriving (with international flights), which make people stand in very long lines. Mostly these are:
- Passport check
- Personal affects security check
- Baggage drop off ( + check-in if you haven't done so)
Now, for baggage drop off, in many cases you get enough clerks that you don't really have to wait in line, and there are certainly enough stalls to service a large number of people at time, so the third item is kind of in parenthesis.
Anyway, this is incredibly annoying and tiring - especially when you contrast it with the huge spaces in most airports, including duty-free and near-gate seating spaces which are very roomy and can hold many times more people than you would expect to pass through security; and the fact that airports have large numbers of employees. It's double annoying since there are usually empty stalls for passport check officers and for security check lanes despite there being lines for the active stalls/lanes.
This raises two questions:
- If airports operate these choke-points at less than maximum capacity, why do they not let people take numbers rather than stand in line for a long time?
and the question of resources:
- Is it really the case that airports aren't able to "widen" (= add more active lanes) their choke-points? Is it really that expensive / difficult?
- Please do not answer with speculation on why you think this is the case, I'm only interested in factual information if you have it.
- I realize the reasons might be somewhat different for different airports, but since this seems to be a nearly-universal norm, I'm interested in the common/recurring reasons or justifications.