WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today that it has reached an agreement with Southwest Airlines in which the airline will ensure that at least 50 percent of its kiosks at U.S. airports are accessible to passengers with disabilities by September 30, 2017. In addition, any automated kiosk that Southwest installs after that date will also be an accessible model, so that in the future, 100 percent of its 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.
“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.”
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.
This matter was handled by Kathleen Blank-Riether, Senior Attorney, at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings.
The agreement is available at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0202.