Virgin America fined over safety video

Washington DC
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The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Virgin America $150,000 for failing to ensure passengers with hearing impairments understood the airline's pre-flight safety video.

DOT says Virgin did not ensure that it had a sign language inset in its safety video or written captioning, violating DOT rules that require safety briefings be accessible to hearing impaired passengers, says DOT today.

Burlingame, California-based Virgin, which displays safety videos on seat-back screens, has violated the rule since the carrier launched operations in 2007, DOT says.

"Safety is our number-one priority and that includes ensuring that every airline passenger has access to airline safety briefings," says DOT secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. "We will continue to take enforcement action when our disability rules are violated so that all passengers are aware of critical, potentially life-saving information."

Virgin tells Flightglobal it has "previously used non-video alternatives for transmitting safety information to our guests with hearing impairments."

Still, the carrier will "be adding high-contrast captioning to our safety video to provide an additional form of communication of safety-related information," Virgin says.

The airline is currently loading close-captioned videos on its aircraft and installation on all aircraft should be complete by 20 September, the airline adds.