Delta Air Lines is poised to become the first airline in the United States to ditch the use of gender-specific terms like “ladies and gentleman” during onboard announcements as well as at boarding gates according to an internal memo sent to flight attendants. Instead, the Atlanta-based airline which has long supported LGBTQ projects will embrace gender-neutral terms like “hello everyone” when addressing passengers.
On Friday afternoon, Delta confirmed the upcoming changes saying the move to gender-neutral language was “part of our efforts to become an even more inclusive airline”.
In an emailed statement, a Delta spokesperson told us: “Delta flight attendants greet our customers with gender-neutral language through our on board announcements. Promoting inclusion throughout the travel journey is core to creating a safe, comfortable and respectful space for all of our customers and employees.”
The move to gender-neutral announcements was led by fellow North American carrier Air Canada around 12-months ago. The airline explained the move to staffers at the time, saying in an employee email that the change reflected their “commitment to respect gender identity, diversity and inclusion”.
Last month, Japan Airlines also announced plans to stop addressing its passengers with “ladies and gentleman”. The change brings the airline’s English language announcements in line with Japenese announcements that are traditionally gender-neutral.
Rival Japenese airline All Nippon Airlines said it would also consider banning the greeting “ladies and gentleman” but wouldn’t change its policy until first gathering feedback from customers. While the airline didn’t specify what feedback it was seeking, company executives may well have been fearful of upsetting traditionalists.
British low-cost airline easyJet faced a backlash last year when it considered starting all of its onboard announcements with gender-neutral greetings. After some critics of the policy bombarded the airline with abuse on Twitter, a spokesperson said they would instead issue “guidance” on how to “welcome all customers in a friendly and inclusive way.”
Delta will phase out the use of “ladies and gentleman” from next month – a process that might take even the most supportive flight attendants some time to get used to.
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.