Japan Airlines Switches to Gender-neutral Greetings on All Flights

The carrier becomes the first Asian airline to eliminate gender-specific terminology, including phrases like “ladies and gentlemen.”

Female flight attendants on Japan Airlines used to be required to wear skirts and heels — but in a move to equalize genders, the company changed its rules in March and began permitting pants and any shoe type. Now, the carrier is taking its commitment to equality one step further by only using gender-neutral flight announcements starting Oct. 1, a JAL spokesperson told AFP on Monday.

Beginning Thursday, the phrase “ladies and gentleman” will no longer be used in the English-language announcements. Instead, inclusive terms like “all passengers” and “everyone” will be utilized. The Japanese-language equivalent was already gender neutral, so it will remain unchanged.

“We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat everyone, including our customers, with respect,” JAL spokesperson Mark Morimoto told The New York Times in an email.

Japan Airlines Boeing 767-300ER airplane at Beijing Capital airport
Getty Images

This marks the first Asian airline to adopt the standard, according to CNN. Another Japanese carrier, All Nippon Airways (ANA), told AFP that they would “study the issue based on comments from [their] customers.” In 2018, ANA designated a bathroom at its Tokyo International Airport lounge as gender neutral, and in 2016, the airline allowed same-sex partners to register as family members in its rewards program, according to The New York Times.

JAL has been embracing the LGBTQ community in other ways, too. Last year, they tested a flight for same-sex partners and families called “LGBT Ally Charter,” and made family and spouse allowances to include same-sex partners, according to AFP.

While a recent Dentsu Diversity Lab survey showed that 78.4 percent of Japanese people ages 20 to 59 support same-sex marriage, Japanese lawmakers have yet to recognize the unions, according to The New York Times. Thirteen same-sex couples filed discrimination cases on Valentine’s Day in 2019, the BBC reported.

Airlines around the globe are also making shifts to eliminate gender-specific terms. Air Canada and EasyJet both eliminated the terminology on its flights in 2019, while United Airlines led the way in offering non-binary gender identification during booking. Plus, Canadian passports have allowed a gender-neutral option since 2017.

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