Travelers who go through the Des Moines International Airport will find another sign that it’s a hub of world travel. Airport spokesman Roy Criss says the variety of world languages are becoming an increasingly common problem for ticket agents and other workers. He says especially as local businesses have more international employees, they come through this airport. In slower times, Criss says airport staff managed to handle the problem of travelers who didn’t speak English.There were some volunteers in the information booth and now and then an employee who could at least recognize which foreign language a traveler spoke and try to help figure it out. But there could be vital health or safety information a passenger needs to receive or pass on, and Criss says the airport’s taken steps to provide better communication. With the increase in passenger loads, which have set new records recently, and the number of languages and dialects, they can’t be so casual anymore and had to find a more efficient process. He says they’ll get some help in making the translation. The airport’s contracting with a company that provides a big card listing most of the world’s 150 languages so a traveler can point to the one they’re speaking. Using that information, airport staff will call a special number, and enter the code for the language they needed translated. The average response time is 30-seconds until someone comes on the line to start helping that traveler, as they first talk with the interpreter, then that professional speaks to airport workers to explain whether they need medical attention, have to page someone, can’t find a gate or whatever their need is.
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