How Much Will You Pay To Skip The Line?

US corporations turn Americans’ hatred for waiting in line into significant revenue.
February 25, 2024
Facebook LogoTwitter Icon
Black LinkedIn Icon
Clear membership line at the airport

Did you ever slip a bouncer twenty bucks to skip the line to get into the bar? Or pay a little kid to wait in line for you on Black Friday?

Then, you might be their target customer.

Americans hate waiting in line; at least, that’s what the data says. Waitwhile, a queue and wait management company, conducted a survey that found more than four out of five consumers (82%) avoid going to a business because of lines and customer impatience rose by 176% YoY in 2023.

Customers have found ways to skip the line for years, but informally. It’s becoming more institutionalized as US corporations realize skipping the line can drive lots of revenue.

  • Skip the airport line – Clear memberships at $189/year and TSA PreCheck at $78/year
  • Skip the dating line – Tinder added a $499/month membership to prioritize a dater’s profile
  • Skip the vaccine line – Patients offered upward of $25,000 to skip the line for the COVID-19 vaccine

But, there are also downsides to the business model. It can create hostility and resentment from your other customers. For example, 13,000 skiers petitioned to stop fast passes to allow rich people to skip the line at Mt Bachelor in Oregon.


I, for one, will not be paying to skip the line. Lines can also tell other consumers there is demand for something, like at a restaurant. Some businesses like Tpumps, a popular boba drinks spot, know this and optimize around this insight. They intentionally place their cash register right next to the entrance of their stores so the line to order wraps around the block for everyone driving by to see.

So, whether businesses are taking money from customers to skip the line or using it to manufacture demand — the line impacts the bottom line.

Read next