Japan Airlines is to become the latest airline to ban the use of “ladies and gentleman” in onboard and airport announcements in favour of gender-neutral terms. While the Japanese expression is normally gender-neutral, the airline has traditionally used gender-specific terms when making English language announcements.
The changes are set to come into force from October 2020 with a spokesperson for the airline saying the phrase “ladies and gentleman” would be “abolished” and instead, simple phrases like “good morning” or “good evening” would be used instead.
Last year, Air Canada became the first known airline to ban gender-specific terms in onboard announcements as part of a commitment “to respect gender identity, diversity and inclusion”. In December 2019, British low-cost airline easyJet also ditched gender-specific terms after receiving a complaint from one flyer who accused the airline of “reinforcing gender binaries”.
Japan Airlines operated a special “LGBT Ally” flight last year which was aimed at “making more people aware of the activities that support LGBTQ and promoting understanding of LGBTQ throughout society.”
Japan is generally a tolerant society but while homosexuality is legal there are no legal protections for LGBTQ facing discrimination and same-sex marriage is not recognised. Human rights groups have urged the Japenese government to pass a proposed equality law ahead of next year’s delayed Tokyo Olympic Games.
In a recent report, Human Rights Watch concluded that “LGBT people in Japan continue to face intense social pressure and fewer legal protections than other Japanese.”
Rival Japenese airline ANA said it would consider changing its gender-specific English language announcements but would “study the issue based on comments from our customers.”
Japan Airlines, meanwhile, says it will continue to tackle LGBTQ issues within its organisation as well as in society.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.