Chick-Fil-A Fans Share The Longest Drive-Thru Lines They've Ever Seen

Good things come to those who wait. That's what Chick-fil-A drive-thru customers must be telling themselves. When a prompt appeared on the Chick-fil-A subreddit in late March, asking Chick-fil-A fans what was the longest drive-thru line they'd ever seen, dozens quickly responded, sharing horror stories of some truly mind-boggling drive-thru traffic. 

One user claimed to have seen a backup of cars half a mile long — with the Chick-fil-A closing up shop for the day before the whole line could be served. Another told a story of waiting more than six hours in line at a newly opened Chick-fil-A in Spokane. Several people gave accounts of drive-thru lines stretching into nearby traffic — the most striking of these was probably a Philadelphia location, whose drive-thru line was so long it wrapped around the Chick-fil-A building twice before traipsing onto a two-lane highway. There are two important questions that might be asked in response. The first is: Who in their right mind joins a drive-thru line so long it's extending into the thoroughfare? The other is: Why do Chick-fil-A drive-thrus get so much traffic in the first place?

Worth the wait

QSR was discussing this very question in 2019, when the results of its annual Drive Thru Performance Study were released. One of the study's most important findings was that, across the fast food industry, the average speed of service in drive-thrus had decreased, with customers waiting about 21 seconds longer in 2019 than in 2018. Chick-fil-A was an outlier in this performance category, averaging 322.98 seconds per customer — a full minute longer than its 2018 average, and almost 70 seconds longer than the industry average. As QSR went on to explain, high drive-thru volume has been part of the Chick-fil-A experience for a while now and has required some inventive solutions, including dual-lane drive-thrus and supplemental "face-to-face ordering crew[s]."

In fact, Chick-fil-A's long drive-thru lines are caused, in part, by the efficiency of its drive-thru system (in addition to product and customer service quality). That is what Khalilah Cooper, director of service and hospitality at Chick-fil-A, thinks: "Even if [customers] see cars in the line, they know we'll get them out as quickly as possible, but they'll also get fresh food and a hospitable experience." Indeed, according to QSR's study, over half of Chick-fil-A customers surveyed rated their drive-thru experience (an average of almost six minutes in line) as "fast" — and 95 percent of drive-thru experiences left customers "satisfied" or even "highly satisfied." Good things really do come to those who wait.