US air travel access rules will affect Australian airlines

Monday, 11 November 2013 16:19pm

In a ruling issued last week by the US Department of Transportation, airlines servicing the US will need to improve access to core travel information and services on their websites and airport kiosks.

The new rule is part of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and will come into effect on 12 December 2013. Airline website pages for booking and changing reservations will need to be accessible. Within two years, these pages must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA, with entire website compliance required within three years.

US airlines that carry more than 10,000 passengers per year must ensure that all new automated check-in kiosks installed three or more years after the rule's effective date meet access requirements. The minimum requirement is for at least 25 per cent of kiosks in each location to be accessible. These goals must be met within ten years of the rule's effective date.

The new federal regulation also requires ticket agents to provide applicable web-based fare discounts to customers with a disability who cannot use an agent's websites. This ruling is required on or after 180 days of the regulation’s effective date of 12 December 2013.

Although this is a rule issued by the US Department of Transportation, it will affect any airline servicing the US including Australia’s Qantas and Jetstar airlines, and Air New Zealand. While Qantas has been a leader in in-flight entertainment services, America’s earlier push for improved travel entertainment accessibility and this new ruling for websites and kiosks will no doubt encourage international airlines to improve their own services.


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