There's something uniquely annoying about airport queues. Your brain is in holiday mode - anticipating the poolside cocktails or reunions with loved ones - you've arrived at the airport in a blazing rush after last-minute packing and suddenly you need to shuffle along at snail's pace.

My top survival tip: Treat it as an exercise for your mathematics and social skills.

There's a key moment, when you've gotten past the first wave of checks and you have to choose which queue to go into next. You have to assess which of these new queues will move the fastest.

It's not simply a matter of joining the shortest line. The shortest line might be entirely composed of blithering idiots - the kind of people who wait until they're standing in front of the x-ray machine BEFORE THINKING TO GET THEIR LAPTOP OUT OF THEIR BAG. The ones who remember there's loose change in their back pocket AFTER THEY'VE WALKED THROUGH THE METAL DETECTOR. Honestly, mate - how did you find your way to the airport?


Before picking a queue, you need to make some Sherlock-style deductions about your fellow passengers. You have seconds in which to do so.

You wouldn't want to get in a queue behind a young couple pushing their baby in a folding pram, would you? Well, actually... if they look like ultra-organised, well-travelled types, perhaps you should. Young parents are often mindful of how the detritus of their family life can inconvenience others. The young dad might well have that pram packed and into the x-ray scanner before the dopey teen you were going to stand behind in the other queue has stopped scrolling through Tinder for long enough to recognise where he is.

I look for passengers who seem bright-eyed and aware. Ones who are holding their documents in their hand. Business travellers are good - the sooner they get through, the sooner they're supping on free booze in the airline lounge.

Judging other people has long been among the most fun things about international travel. Put the craft to good use in your next airport queue.