The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has signed agreements with private airlines to increase the availability of accessible airport kiosks across the country.
The agreements were reached with Alaska Airlines/Virgin America and Spirit Airlines in an attempt to improve the travel experience for passengers with special needs.
Through an agreement, the USDOT also ordered All Nippon Airways (ANA) to make the airline’s mobile website more accessible for individuals with disabilities.
USDOT secretary Elaine Chao said: “The department is committed to making transportation more accessible for everyone.
“These agreements will ensure greater accessibility and improve the flying experience for individuals with disabilities.”
Under existing rules, it is mandatory for airlines to make sure that at least 25% of the kiosks in each airport location are accessible by 2023.
Airlines need to ensure that any automated kiosk installed after 12 December last year with annual enplanements of 10,000 or more is accessible.
Though it is necessary for airlines to ensure that their websites are accessible, there is no law that makes the requirement of making mobile websites accessible compulsory.
Signing agreements with the USDOT, the airlines reported their inability to comply with the rules in full at this stage and instead reached settlements with the agency to make air travel more accessible for persons with disabilities, that what is required under current rules.
As part of the deal, Spirit Airlines has agreed to make at least 50% of its kiosks at US airports accessible by the end of this year, while Alaska Airlines/Virgin America will do so by 31 December 2019.
Under both the agreements, the airlines are required to install only accessible kiosks in the future.