Hologram staff greet airport travellers

[From NPR’s The Two-Way blog, which also features a 4:28 minute audio story and a 1:03 video]

Meet John and Julie: Holograms Beamed Into The Manchester Airport

February 3, 2011
by Erin Killian

Apparently people who fly from Manchester, England, often forget to throw away their liquids. Since 2006, when the policy that required travelers to ditch their liquids went into effect, staff at the Manchester airport has tried all sorts of mechanisms to get people to comply.

“We’ve tried a number of things, from posters to leaflets, from real staff being there to remind people,” Russell Craig, spokesman for the Manchester International Airport, tells Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. “Even, last summer, we had people dressed as giant bottles of water.”

Their latest ploy? Holograms — just like those in Star Wars (remember the scene where Princess Leia makes a plea to Obi-Wan Kenobi?). Last week, the airport added holograms of two real employees — Julie Capper and John Walsh — to remind passengers of the liquid restrictions. Their holograms are two-dimensional.

Craig says the holograms are drawing crowds — and “incredible results.”

But Julie’s hologram, which runs through a 13-14 second script, is set up in the same section that Julie works — confusing some travelers.

“In fact, an old guy walked up to Julie’s hologram and obviously thought it was the real Julie, handed her his passport — and of course when she didn’t respond, he looked very annoyed that he was being ignored,” Craig says. “And then [he] suddenly realized what happened and kind of shuffled off to see the real Julie.”

Neither Julie nor John get any overtime for their holograms’ long hours.

Says Craig: “That’s one of the benefits of [holographic] staff, of course, is they don’t go sick, they don’t complain, they just carry on doing what they do.”

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