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Low-Cost Airline easyJet Becomes Latest Carrier to Ditch “Ladies and Gentleman” for Gender Neutral Terms

Low-Cost Airline easyJet Becomes Latest Carrier to Ditch “Ladies and Gentleman” for Gender Neutral Terms

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Story Highlights
  • easyJet to encourage cabin crew to use gender-neutral greetings like “hello everyone”
  • Airline spokesperson says it is not a ban on traditional greetings like “ladies and gentleman”
  • Air Canada has already adopted a similar policy
  • Other airlines are introducing non-binary booking options

The low-cost British carrier easyJet has become the latest airline to embrace gender-neutral greetings, advising staff to say “welcome everyone” rather than the traditional “ladies and gentleman”.  The decision by easyJet to provide new guidance to cabin crew and other staffers comes after the airline received a Twitter complaint and follows hot on the heels of Air Canada’s decision to adopt a similar policy.

easyJet decided to review its policy after being contacted via Twitter by Andi Fugard, a senior lecturer in social science at Birkbeck, University of London.  Fugard, whose research focuses on mental healthcare, asked the Luton-based low-cost carrier whether it was in “some kind of competition to see how many times you can reinforce gender binaries?”

Photo Credit: easyJet

“‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’, perfume strictly segregated again by ‘ladies and gentlemen’. Ditch sir/madam too. An organisation as huge as yours must do better,” Fugard wrote in his August 29 Tweet.

At the time, easyJet responded by telling Fugard it does “not discriminate against any individual – passengers or staff members.”

“We are a pan-European airline with the aim of connecting people of all nationalities across Europe so there is certainly no room in our organisation for discrimination of any kind,” the response continued.  In a follow-up Tweet, the airline said it would review its policy and it seems like the new recommendations were introduced recently as a result.

However, following a predictable online backlash, easyJet has been forced to deny allegations that it has “banned” the use of the terms ‘ladies and gentleman’.  A spokesperson for the airline explained that they had “simply provided guidance on how to welcome all customers in a friendly and inclusive way.”

A statement from the airline continued: “We want our crew to be welcoming to everyone on board and so have provided some guidance to them of how to best do that in an way that is inclusive for everyone.”

In October, Air Canada revealed it would also be introducing gender-neutral onboard announcements, although in this case, flight attendants have been told to only use terms such as “Hello everyone” or “Good evening everyone”.

In a major update to the airline’s procedures, Air Canada told its flight attendants and gate agents: “The change will be reflected in the release of the Onboard Announcement Manual as part of our commitment to respect gender identity, diversity and inclusion. We will tell you when this change will be available and when to implement this change,” the memo from Air Canada tells its flight attendants and gate agents.”

In March, United Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to offer non-binary gender options such as ‘U’ (undisclosed) or ‘X’ (unspecified) for passengers booking flights.  American Airlines will follow suit in early 2020.  The minority Qatari owned Air Italy also allows passengers to select ‘X’ as a third gender option in passenger bookings.

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