British Airways has been accused of trying to appease the “woke brigade” after it became the latest airline to abolish the use of the term “ladies and gentleman” from all onboard announcements.
The airline will instead use gender-neutral terms when addressing passengers with new announcements set to start rolling out across BA’s flights in the coming days.
The decision to ditch gendered announcements, see’s British Airways join a growing list of airlines that respect the fact that not everyone identifies simply as male or female. German flag carrier Lufthansa introduced gender-neutral announcements in June, although the airline admitted the change would take some getting used to.
Gender-specific announcements can be particularly difficult for non-binary people “whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’”.
The LGBTQI+ advocacy charity Stonewall describes the term non-binary as someone who feels “that their gender identity and gender experience involves being both a man and a woman, or that it is fluid, in between, or completely outside of that binary.”
Stonewall suggests that when addressing a group, individuals and businesses use alternatives to the binary “ladies and gentleman” like ‘folks’, ‘pals’ or ‘everyone’.
It’s not clear how British Airways will start addressing passengers but other airlines that have embraced gender-neutral greetings use the term “hello everyone”.
Air Canada is believed to have become the first major airline to ditch gendered announcements in late 2019 as part of its efforts to promote equality and welcome all of its customers.
Delta Air Lines and Japan Airlines have also ditched gendered announcements.
But easyJet faced a backlash in 2019 when it considered starting all of its onboard announcements with gender-neutral greetings. Critics bombarded the airline with abuse on Twitter and the airline quickly abandoned the policy and instead said they would merely issue “guidance” on how to “welcome all customers in a friendly and inclusive way.”
British Airways didn’t immediately say whether it would be instructing staff to avoid gendered personal greetings like ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’, or what could replace these terms during onboard interactions.
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.