Hotels.com, Expedia Implement Settlement and Launch New Website Features to Assist Disabled Travelers
Hotels.com and Expedia, two of the world’s leading online travel companies, have launched new website features that will allow disabled travelers to search for and reserve hotel rooms that have accessible accommodations.A traveler who needs accommodations such as wheelchair-accessible pathways, a roll-in shower, Braille signage, and/or telephone equipment for the deaf can now use the Hotels.com and Expedia.com websites to search for lodgings offering these features. Travelers can now also request a room with one or more specific accessibility features on the online reservation page. Requests will be reviewed by the companies’ customer service personnel, who will contact the hotel to attempt to reserve a room that fits the bill. Travelers will then receive an email either confirming that the reservation has been made, or offering to help locate an equivalent room at another hotel.
The website improvements were negotiated last year in settlement of a class action lawsuit, Smith v. Hotels.com, brought by AXIS Dance Company and dancers Bonnie Lewkowicz and Judith Smith. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs and their attorneys, Public Justice, Disability Rights Advocates, and law firm Chavez & Gertler, alleged that Hotels.com’s failure to accommodate the needs of disabled travelers was a discriminatory practice that violated California law. Implementation of the agreed-upon website improvements is now complete.
“Travelers with disabilities can finally take advantage of the convenience and discounts available on Hotels.com’s and Expedia’s websites,” said Lewkowicz. “This is a huge step forward, and I sincerely hope that all travel web sites will follow suit.” Adults with disabilities spend over $10 billion annually on travel, and nearly half of them consult the Internet to support their travel needs.