Occupied time (walking to baggage claim) feels shorter than unoccupied time (standing at the carousel). Research on queuing has shown that, on average, people overestimate how long they’ve waited in a line by about 36 percent.
This is also why one finds mirrors next to, and inside, elevators. The rationale behind the mirrors was: give people something to occupy their time, and the wait will feel shorter. With the mirrors, people could check their hair or slyly ogle other passengers. And it worked: almost overnight, the complaints ceased.
People can’t bear waiting without knowing how long the wait will be, which is why call centres often tell you your number in the queue. Even so, having nothing to think about but the wait itself can soon become intolerable. “If you’re doing something - if you’ve got your mobile phone or an iPad or something - it helps,” Furnham says.
Before smartphones, this led to the installation of mirrors to distract people waiting for lifts.
Why does a watched pot never boil, or time fly when you’re having fun? Dan Zakay has some answers
Occupied Time Feels Shorter Than Unoccupied Time.
As William James, the noted philosopher observed: "Boredom results from being attentive to the passage of time itself." A more colloquial version might be Benjamin Franklin's "A watched pot never boils." The truth of this proposition has been discovered by many service organizations.