BOSTON – The main security checkpoint line at Boston Logan International Airport’s Terminal E got a little easier and more fun today with the introduction of “Carla’’ who will explain to passengers what they need to do as they go through the security checkpoint.
The new Virtual Assistant, a video projection of a woman dressed as a Massport customer service representative, is expected to quicken passenger flow and enhance the overall screening process for roughly 6,000 travelers a day. With a name badge reading “Carla’’ the avatar speaks in English and Spanish, instructing passengers to have their identification and boarding pass available for inspection, and reminds them to remove shoes, outer garments, the contents of their pockets and laptops from carry-ons for inspection. Carla’s presence will free up TSA officers to focus on the screening of passengers rather than providing verbal instructions to folks in line.
“Safety and security is our number one priority, and good security means good customer service,” said Ed Freni, Massport’s Director of Aviation. “This new virtual greeter gives us an opportunity to collaborate with the TSA on a more efficient security checkpoint by educating passengers ahead of time on the do’s and the dont’s of security screening. Our best asset in making the security screening process move along faster is an informed and prepared customer.”
Carla exists as a projected figure creating the illusion of a real human being. She is fluent in both English and Spanish gives passengers easily understood critical information they need to be ready for screening. When finished, she repeats the message again.
Carla and the projection system she relies on, is mobile, but will be stationed for now at the Terminal E checkpoint. She is switched on from about 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day as a test of the product’s effectiveness and reliability.
If the technology performs well, the program could be expanded throughout the airport. The Virtual Assistant was purchased from New York-based Tensator, for about $26,000.
Boston Logan, 15 minutes from the intersection of Route 128 and I-90 and five minutes from downtown Boston, serves as the gateway to the New England region and offers nonstop service to 72 domestic and 31 international destinations and in 2011 handled 28.9 million passengers. Boston Logan is the Air Line Pilot Association’s Airport of the Year for 2008 because of its commitment to safety. Over the past decade, the airport spent $4.5 billion on a modernization program that includes new terminals, public transportation access, parking facilities, roadways and airport concessions, and has been transformed into a world-class 21st Century facility. The airport generates $7 billion in total economic impact each year.
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The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, public terminals in the Port of Boston, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport. Massport is a financially self-sustaining public authority whose premier transportation facilities generate more than $8 billion annually, and enhance and enable economic growth and vitality in New England. No state tax dollars are used to fund operations or capital improvements at Massport facilities. For more information please visit massport.com.