United Airlines Just Announced a New Push for More Accessible Travel

The airline expects to outfit all of its planes with braille signage by the end of 2026.

Photo courtesy of United Airlines
Photo courtesy of United Airlines

Anyone who wishes to travel and discover the world's most prized treasures should be able to do so effortlessly, and today, United Airlines took a laudable step towards making that possible.

The carrier just became the first US airline to equip its aircraft interiors with braille—the system built around touch-based reading and writing—allowing passengers with visual impairments and disabilities to more comfortably navigate the space when flying. With 27 million people with disabilities traveling in one year (as per 2019 data by the Department of Transportation), this is a huge milestone for a more inclusive and supportive travel industry.

Passengers can already expect to find braille language on a few United Airlines planes. For now, the airline has outfitted around a dozen aircrafts with the markings, which are featured on rows and seat numbers as well as inside and outside the aircraft's lavatories. The goal is to equip the entire fleet with braille and, according to United's plans, the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

"Finding your seat on a plane or getting to the restroom is something most of us take for granted, but for millions of our customers, it can be a challenge to do independently," Linda Jojo, United's executive VP and chief customer officer for United, said in a statement. "By adding more tactile signage throughout our interiors, we're making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, and that's good for everyone."

United is planning to expand its visual accessibility resources in addition to the new braille signage. The airline announced that it is currently working with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and other disability advocacy groups, and they are exploring the possibility of adding raised letters, numbers, and arrows to further help guide disabled passengers inside the aircraft.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.