'Ladies & gentlemen' | British Airways to stop using gender-specific language in equality push

British Airways to stop using gender-specific language in equality push

Frequent flyers will be no stranger to the requisite introduction given by flight crew that generally starts with ‘ladies and gentlemen’.

Yet, in a recent diversity push, British Airways has announced that it will alter its announcements to better ‘reflect the diversity’ of its passengers.

The phrase, which it no longer sees fit for purpose in line with its new code of practice, will be replaced with more gender and age-neutral terms that are set to be more inclusive of those who do not identify as a ‘lady’ or a ‘gentleman’.

British Airways cited the new common practice of altering this language, already in place in many airports both across the UK and other nations, as a key impetus for the move, which was also reportedly spurred on by the increase in younger passengers travelling post-lockdown, the Telegraph reported.

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“We celebrate diversity and inclusion and we’re committed to ensuring that all our customers feel welcome when travelling with us,” a Spokesperson for the company noted.

British Airways will be the latest in a raft of other airlines, including the German Lufthansa, EasyJet, AirCanada and Air Malta in using gender neutral greetings. The latter announced in September that its pilots would now use phrases such as ‘attention, all passengers,’ rather than gendered terms.

There has historically been pushback to the concept; in 2019, EasyJet publicly considered starting all onboard announcements with gender-neutral greetings, according to a report by Travel Daily Media. However, the airline garnered anger and negative feedback via Twitter as a result.

In response, EasyJet swiftly abandoned the policy, saying they would only give “advice” on how to “welcome all customers politely and inclusively.”

Yet it appears that gender-neutral language is gaining greater traction within the wider transport industry. Transport for London stopped using ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in 2017.

London Underground staff have since been instructed to say "hello everyone" in an effort to become more gender-neutral. TfL said the move was to ensure all passengers felt "welcome".

At the time, Mark Evers, Director of Customer Strategy at TfL, told the BBC: "We want everyone to feel welcome on our transport network.

"We have reviewed the language that we use in announcements and elsewhere and will make sure that it is fully inclusive, reflecting the great diversity of London."

"Language is extremely important to the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community, and the way we use it can help ensure all people feel included,” LGBT+ charity Stonewall said in response to the announcement.

"We welcome gender neutral announcements to be rolled out across TfL as it will ensure that everyone - no matter who they identify as - feels accounted for."

Image Credit - Matt Bonnar Photography

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