Impression research reveals 75% of airline websites are not access for disabled users

Impression research reveals 75% of airline websites are not access for disabled users

48 airline's websites fall short of the mark

75% of UK, European, and American airlines fall short of website accessibility requirements, according to new research from digital marketing agency Impression.

With 8,000 Google searches for the term "flight booking" in the past month alone, the summer holiday season is well and truly upon us.

However, some might fall into difficulties using airline websites as Impression reveals that of the 48 airline websites they analysed, only a third were optimised to provide accessibility for all users. 

With 1 in 6 of the world population living with some a disability, making a website more accessible is not only the morally right thing to do; it also makes good business sense as it improves the overall usability of a website, potentially upping search engine rankings.

Michael Weir, head of behavioural science of Impression, said: “A website is a representation of a business and often one of the core streams of revenue, so alienating users with an inaccessible website is not only a moral but also a fiscal. 

“As an agency, we are committed to improving the digital advancement of our clients, and website accessibility is a core component of that mission - we hope this study will inspire the airline industry to improve its accessibility, and we are here to help any that would like to explore avenues to achieve that.” 

In many cases, website accessibility is a legal requirement protected under discrimination laws in the UK, EU and America. But, while sites all offered some level of accessibility, not all were fully optimised.

Issues identified by Impression ranged from poor colour contrast, affecting partially sighted and colour-blind users, to coded areas with hidden features and unlabelled buttons that were unreadable to screen readers.

The research was conducted using Google Lighthouse, which gives websites a score out of 100, with anything 90 and above considered good. 

Using these metrics, Impression uncovered that 83% of UK airline operators did not have accessible websites, with only British Airways achieving perfect scores of 100. 

EasyJet had the worst score of all airlines studied, scoring less than 60, ranking particularly low on ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) which, in layman's terms, is a group of HTML roles, states, and properties that provide more context for assistive technologies.

Outside of the UK, in the rest of Europe, just 14% of airline websites scored 90 and above for accessibility, with ARIA issues being the most dominant problem. 

Visual names and labels on parts of websites, like buttons, make them easier to navigate for everyone, but having hidden names and labels within the site is vital for users with visual impairments who need to use screen readers.

Stateside, 55% of American airline websites were appropriately accessible, achieving a score of 90 plus. American Airlines and Delta led the pack with a perfect score of 100, while Southwest had the lowest score of 64.

The UK Government reports that 25% of people with disabilities experience difficulties with trips of any kind, compared with 10% of people without disabilities. 

As we all strive for better working practices, website accessibility is an essential component that should be a core focus for all businesses, especially those looking for growth.