Department of Transportation and Southwest Airlines to Improve Availability of Accessible Airport Kiosks
At least 50 percent of kiosks will be accessible to passengers with disabilities by September 2017
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Southwest Airlines have made an agreement ensuring that Southwest will make at least 50 percent of its U.S. airport kiosks accessible to passengers with disabilities by September 30, 2017.
The agreement also ensures that any such kiosk installed by the airline after that date will also be accessible to these passengers. The goal is to have 100 percent of Southwest's kiosks accessible to disabled passengers.
Passengers use these kiosks for a variety of tasks: they use them to print boarding passes and baggage tags, scan passports to check in to their flights, and cancel or rebook tickets.
"This agreement will enable people with disabilities to travel more independently by ensuring that there are significantly more accessible airport kiosks available for their use," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The Department is committed to ensuring that our air transportation system is accessible for everyone. We commend the efforts of all airlines that are actively working to ensure that they meet the Department's accessibility requirements for automated kiosks, and credit Southwest for instituting additional measures under this agreement to improve accessibility for its passengers."
The USDOT regulations require airlines to make any automated kiosks they install after December 12, 2016, at a U.S. airport that sees 10,000 or more boardings per year to be an accessible model until 25 percent or more in each location are accessible. Twenty-five percent of these kiosks must be accessible by December 12, 2023.
The terms of the agreement require Southwest to take action to provide passengers with disabilities with greater accessibility. In return, the USDOT will not take any enforcement action against the airline for not installing such kiosks between December 12, 2016 and September 30, 2017. Southwest reported that it would likely not be able to comply with the kiosk accessibility rule back in April 2016 and at that time offered to take actions to increase accessible kiosk availability beyond those required by the USDOT.