With the annual influx of tourists set to peak between November and April, Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport is installing new technology to streamline operations this high season.
The airport management company Aeris, contracted to run the terminal for 14 years, expects around 2.5 million passengers this season based on trends. Juan Santamaría welcomes 69% of air travelers, with the remainder passing through Daniel Oduber Airport.
“In response to this massive influx, we’re implementing various innovations to ensure smooth passenger flow,” said Juan Belliard, Aeris’ Director of Operations.
One major upgrade is 45 new self-check-in kiosks, bringing the total to 75. The kiosks allow passengers to independently register, print boarding passes, and check bags, potentially cutting processing times in half.
The “Self Bag Drop” pilot program is another new feature that enables travelers to swiftly load luggage onto a scanner under supervision. The system verifies weight and tag details before sending bags to the plane.
Special attention was given to streamlining the process for U.S.-bound flights, the airport’s largest market. New biometric devices will capture facial images and validate passengers against the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office’s Traveler Verification Service.
“It’s an efficient system, making boarding to the U.S. about 50% faster,” remarked Belliard.
As part of ongoing enhancements, 106 display screens will be replaced with 43-inch monitors. Additionally, 147 immigration officers will be stationed at 44 control posts working full-time.
With roughly 1,061 passengers expected per hour at peak times, Aeris recommends arriving 3-4 hours pre-flight to accommodate heavy Alajuela traffic. Using mobile check-in is also advised to minimize airport processing times.
The suite of optimized systems aims to keep up with Juan Santamaría Airport’s rapid growth. The terminal experienced a 158% increase in U.S. visitors this year as pandemic restrictions eased. Maintaining excellent passenger experiences remains a priority through the busy months ahead.