About Us  |  About Cheetah®  |  Contact Us

DOT, Southwest Airlines reach agreement to improve kiosk accessibility for persons with disabilities

November 15th, 2016  |  Deborah Hammonds

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced an agreement with Southwest Airlines that will ensure that at least 50 percent of the airline’s U.S. airport kiosks are accessible to passengers with disabilities by September 30, 2017. In addition, any automated kiosk that the airline installs after that date will also be an accessible model, so that in the future, 100 percent of Southwest’s kiosks will be accessible to passengers with disabilities.  Kiosks installed at U.S. airports are used for a variety of functions, such as printing boarding passes and baggage tags, scanning passports to check-in, and canceling or rebooking tickets.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the agreement will “enable people with disabilities to travel more independently by ensuring that there are significantly more accessible airport kiosks available for their use.” Foxx said the DOT is committed to ensuring the air transportation system is accessible for everyone and commended the efforts of all airlines that are actively working to ensure they meet DOT’s accessibility requirements of automated kiosks. He credited Southwest for “instituting additional measures under this agreement to improve accessibility for its passengers.”

Under DOT rules, airlines are required to ensure that any automated kiosk that they install after December 12, 2016 at U.S. airports that have annual enplanements of 10,000 or more is an accessible model, until at least 25 percent of the kiosks in each airport location are accessible.  DOT mandates that 25 percent of kiosks must be accessible by December 12, 2023.

Under the agreement, Southwest will adopt measures to provide greater accessibility to individuals with disabilities, and in return, the Department will not take enforcement action against Southwest for failing to install accessible kiosks between December 12, 2016 and September 30, 2017.  Southwest self-reported its anticipated future noncompliance with the Department’s kiosk accessibility rule in April 2016 and offered to institute measures to increase the availability of accessible kiosks for persons with disabilities beyond the DOT requirements.

Kathleen Blank-Riether, Senior Attorney at DOT’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, handled this matter. The agreement is available at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0202.