Brazil Airline Using Floor Projections To Speed Up Safe Boarding At Airports

September 16, 2020 by Dave Haynes

The video is in Portuguese, but even with a likely language hurdle you should be able to latch on to the working of this projector-driven plane boarding system now being used by a Brazilian airline at several airports.

The idea is to have overhead projectors at gates organize boarding based on seat assignments shown and shifting on the floor. So if you are in 17C, you enter that shifting, projected box as it progresses to the door and jetway.

The Azul Blue Carpet, the airline says, is a “technological innovation that eliminates the stress from the boarding process. Projectors and screens around the boarding area create a moving carpet visual on the floor allowing customer to simply follow this projected carpet when their row or group is called.”

“On average, this innovation reduces boarding times by 25% while maximizing customer health and safety.”

This is another explainer, found (in all places!) on TripAdvisor:

Azul has adapted its “Tapete Azul” (blue carpet) boarding system to increase social distancing during boarding process… it uses projections on the floor to show where each passenger (according to seat number) should be… it was already in test in Curitiba (CWB) airport since late last year to speed up boarding process, but with advent of covid19, it was tweaked to increase distances…

Azul plans to expand it to 17 airports till end of year, covering about 70% of its domestic flights

It is now under test in its main hub Campinas (VCP) and also Goiânia (GYN) airports.

Next are its secondary hub Belo Horizonte (CNF), and Rio de Janeiro SDU and Salvador (SSA) airports.

Very interesting stuff. Given most modern or upgraded airports use a lot of curtain glass at gates, ambient light will be a challenge, and bright laser projectors are not cheap.

You also have to teach people how to use this, which will be easy for experienced business travellers but a potential nightmare when dealing with people who rarely fly.

If you cast your mind back to those days, six months and further back, when we got on planes regularly, you’ll recall all those people who crowd around gates, seemingly fearful the plane will leave without them.  The simple boarding zone thing is over their heads, so following floor projections would be mind-blowing.

  1. I’ve seen this doing the rounds recently, and it’s a really cool concept and with some tweaking would be even better. There’s two main areas of concern. 1, those pesky humans, 2, the technology.

    As you suggest, airports have a learning curve for travelers and it’s a challenge to promote natural adoption of new rules and technology. Consider how many times you’re at an airport and still people travel within liquids in their bags, don’t know to take technology out of carry on, etc. I’d be interested to see a crowd dealing with this in real life vs marketing material, as I can see this turning into another “baggage carousel” situation, people pushing through the folks at the front to jump at the last second into their defined slot. One positive is people finding out they’ve misread their boarding pass before boarding. I find it hard to believe the throughput of people is any higher than normal methods of lining up, as you say, people are chomping at the bit. There’s also no way those boxes are spaced at WHO guidelines for COVID, etc.

    You’ve already mentioned the known risks of projection technologies. If this does take off (ha), I can imagine future displays being installed into the floor to pull this off with more vibrancy and reliability. Many top-down projections tend to be gimmicks for retail, etc. This is a lot more useful, so we could see products spin out of it. Those projections look pretty washed out on that flooring, although we can put that down to this being a retrofit. A new build could plan for it and have appropriate materials for projecting onto….although there’s a good chance the cleaners will hate that!

    It’s a little disingenuous to suggest that this concept is reducing boarding times. They are employing a boarding methodology called Wilma, which alone is proven to reduce boarding times by 25% over the traditional zone/rows (block boarding) method. The first study of this was published back in 2008. If they are implying this is 25% more effective than Wilma alone, I’ll happily eat your hat.

    1. Jordan Bradford says:

      They’re actually using the Steffen Perfect method, the absolute fastest boarding method. It incorporates the WilMA (window-middle-aisle) method but does it on alternating rows on alternating sides of the plane.

Leave a comment