World 1st as Hol-iday-grams materialise at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport has become the first airport in the World to introduce holograms as part of its passenger security preparation.

The cutting edge technology, which is well established in the music industry including bringing the animated band Gorillaz to life, is being trialled in an effort to cut security queues.

Passengers in Terminal 1 will now be met by John and Julie; recordings of actual customer service staff John Walsh and Julie Capper who currently work as part of the customer service team at the UK’s largest regional airport.

The eyecatching holograms of John and Julie will greet passengers before they enter the security search area to explain the liquid restrictions and remind travellers to have their boarding cards ready.

The technology has been developed in conjunction with Musion, and uses a texture that is carefully prepared during manufacture to retain maximum transparency and strength. The resulting surface betters that of a glass mirror, allowing the reproduction of high definition video at such high quality that they look real. So much so that passengers at Manchester Airport have been seen presenting their passports to the holograms!

Musion founder James Rock has been using his technology in the music industry lately having worked with the Black Eyed Peas on their latest single ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’. James Rock said: “We’ve developed this technology for many uses but it’s perfectly suited for an airport environment where the support of recorded messages can help with passenger information. It’s something we’ve worked on for a number of years and at Musion and we’d like to see its widespread use for practical purposes like the virtual assistants.

“We can reproduce musical performances and as an example Simon Cowell had a hologram of Frank Sinatra perform at his 50th birthday so you can see where we can take this technology.”

Although John and Julie will remind passengers about the current liquid restrictions any message can be recorded.

 Julie Armstrong, Customer Services Director at Manchester Airport, said: “We are always looking for new ways to improve the experience of our airport for customers. But four years after the restrictions were introduced, passengers understandably forget about liquids. We don’t want anyone to have to throw their drink or make up away so we’ve tried lots of different ways to reinforce the liquid rules, from posters to people dressed up as giant deodorant cans! Maybe holograms are the answer? You certainly can’t miss them and with the real John and Julie already being popular with our customers, I’m hopeful that their virtual selves will be a big hit too.”

Talking about his hologram, the real John Walsh said: “The liquid restrictions remain an area of confusion for many of our passengers and it’s something we still have to spend a lot of time reminding our passengers. That can slow the process down for everyone and that’s something we want to find a solution to. If you look at the entrance to most security areas in airports, a lot of space is set aside for information relating to the current restrictions.”

Restrictions on liquids were introduced in 2006 after a plot was uncovered to smuggle liquid explosives on board transatlantic airliners and detonate them mid-flight. The issue of airport security has returned this week with the bomb at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport and the recent raising of the Home Office threat level from substantial to severe.

Julie Capper said: “If our holograms help our passengers through the security process even quicker then it will be a good thing. I have to say it’s strange to see yourself in virtual form and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to rely on my virtual self to carry some of my workload. I wonder if I can send it to meetings in my place and whether anyone will notice.”

The holograms will be in place in Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 from Monday. Other airports around the UK are currently investigating their installation.


For more information, contact the Manchester Airport press office on 0161 489 2700 or email

Link to Youtube video:


  • Passengers are allowed to take liquids, gels and pastes of 100 mls or less in their hand baggage but these items must be contained within a small, transparent re-sealable plastic bag, which are removed from hand baggage and x-rayed separately.




Published on: 28/01/2011 09:00:00