The National Federation for the Blind has initiated a class action lawsuit against United Airlines because United’s check-in kiosks cannot be used by blind passengers.
The complaint itself was shot over to me via Twitter.
The lawsuit alleges violations of California law and I’m not familiar with the nuances of the California Disabled Persons Act or California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. So I can’t speak to this as a matter of law.
But this seems rather frivolous to me. To wit, Mr. Easy Check-in as I’ve long called him is really not all that useful to passengers to begin with. In fact, I don’t recall the last time I used him, and I am fully capable of seeing and using his screens. I use united.bomb and their airport personnel. Who are fully available to assist blind persons.
Ultimately it does not appear that the lawsuit even alleges that a single blind person has been denied transportation on United Airlines as a result inaccessible kiosks.
Instead, what’s the inconvenience? According to the press release,
Michael Hingson, a blind motivational speaker and president and owner of a technology sales company, said: “I have traveled throughout the United States and the world for my public speaking engagements and as a technology sales representative, yet I cannot independently check in at the airport.
Independently. At the airport.
So the passenger can check in. They can even check in on their own through the website.
They just cannot check in without the assistance of a United agent at the airport.
Meanwhile, this claim in the press release seems just wrong:
Instead of enjoying the features and convenience of these kiosks, including a quicker and more convenient check-in process, blind passengers must wait in long lines at the ticket counter, even when they have already purchased their tickets and checked in online.
Since when do passengers have to wait at a ticket counter when they’ve checked in online? Perhaps if they’ve checked bags, but then they have to wait even if they’re using a kiosk, unless of course they use curbside baggage drop.
Now don’t get me wrong, perhaps United could and should roll out more advanced kiosks in future releases that incorporate “audio interface, a tactile keyboard, or interactive screen reader technology.”
It just seems far-fetched that their failure to do so to date justifies a class action lawsuit.