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Rising to the challenge of U.S. DOT accessibility requirements for web check-in

Caroline Lafont

Product Manager, Altéa DCS & Self-Service Check-In, Amadeus IT Group

It’s easy to take travel for granted when it’s simple and quick to book an airline ticket or check in online. But this is not the case for everyone, especially people with disabilities. With this in mind, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a mandate requiring airline websites to be accessible to passengers with disabilities, as defined by the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

picture of computer with accessibility website


The mandate applies to all “U.S. and foreign airlines with websites marketing air transportation to U.S. consumers for travel within, to or from the United States,” and the U.S. DOT means business. They plan to impose hefty fines for airlines who were not compliant by the 12th December 2015. As such, the Amadeus Airline IT team was presented with the challenge of updating Altéa Self-Service solutions , as well as other Amadeus airline solutions, to meet our airline customers’ new requirements with respect to the mandate issued by the U.S. DOT and to a very tight schedule.

More than 50 airlines benefit from the Altéa web check-in solution, and 14 of these airlines were impacted by the U.S.DOT mandate. This presented a significant challenge, but our developers rose to the occasion and seized the opportunity to rethink the technology underpinning the application using agile design processes, and working closely with the airlines, we were able to deliver an updated web check in solution to all 14 airlines in time to meet the deadline.

Now airline website users with disabilities have a much easier time checking in for their travels. In addition the changes we have implemented have totally refreshed the application, creating a much more modern look and feel and significantly improving flexibility and responsiveness. So impressive is the new application that airlines not impacted by the U.S.DOT mandate have requested Amadeus to implement it for them and we are now rolling it out to our other Altéa web check-in customers.

Points of view

Júlíana Thórdís Stefánsdóttir, Manager, Departure Control Systems, Iceland Air, said, “It is a difficult project for all airlines. That is a fact. For us we had limited time for our Web Check-in UI to be modified to the U.S. DOT mandate and Amadeus met our needs and then some. They made a difficult project easier. “

Yannick Malins, Head of Development, Self Service Check-In, Amadeus IT Group said, “Rebuilding an entire web application on a new AngularJS stack to meet web accessibility ‘AA compliance’ requirements and hard deadlines was a real challenge! But thanks to the expertise of our developers and usability specialists, we pulled it off. We now have a beautiful, responsive and accessible web check-in, online and available to travellers around the world.”

Kimmo Sääskilahti, Accessibility expert at Annanpura Oy, said “I have now tested the whole check-in flow for possible accessibility issues and I am most happy to report that I found no problems or other issues whatsoever. All the pages work extremely well technically and they are also very easy to understand thanks to their clear structure and manageable amount of content on a single page. This makes the service both accessible to users with assistive technology as well as easy to use for people with cognitive impairment or other similar issues. In short, congratulations on work well done!“

This project will further facilitate the travel experience of more than 56 million people with disabilities in the United States.


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