Line-cutting businesses are putting a price on your patience

Skipping to the front of the queue is a booming business.

Cutting someone in line? Rude.

Six silhouettes of people wearing suits stand in a line against a rainbow-colored background.

Cutting someone in line if you’re, like, really wealthy? Now that sounds like a good business idea.

OK, so it’s not that straightforward, but there is a growing group of businesses making money off of helping people skip the wait, per CNN.

  • Clear membership lets people forgo airport security lines for $189 a year. The program now has ~19m members.
  • Tinder charges users $499 a month to skip the virtual queue and have their dating profile prioritized.
  • Ski resorts offer fast-track passes for ski lifts at an extra cost. Killington’s four-day pass is ~$200 plus regular fees.
  • At Universal Studios, an express pass for skipping lines in the theme park starts at ~$110 in addition to admission.

While paying to cut to the front might already seem ethically murky, the possible ramifications of the practice were on full display during the pandemic, when some offered to pay up in return for early access to vaccines.

Toeing the line

Of course, the concept of wealthier individuals paying for better experiences is far from new. (Looking at you, first-class seats.)

But mobile payments and smartphone apps have made it possible for more businesses to introduce a VIP option, and price it accordingly.

For obvious reasons, there’s been some push back as line-cutting becomes more popular. More than 13k skiers signed a petition to end Mount Bachelor’s fast passes, though they were unsuccessful.

While we agree we’d be fuming if someone cut us in line, we must confess: If Trader Joe’s starts offering a fast pass, we’re coughing up the cash.

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