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British Airways tells pilots and cabin crew not to refer to passengers as ‘ladies and gentlemen’

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British Airways follows a powerful string of airlines, in a bid to make its vocabulary more inclusive as well as celebrating diversity, and has consequently advised its pilots and cabin crew to drop gender normative terms such as “ladies and gentlemen”.

As reported by the Telegraph, the decision to stop using gender-based adjectives comes as a result of a change in British Airways’ customers.

Indeed, an increased number of families have been traveling since Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed, prompting the airline wanting to “make children feel included in announcements as well as respect new social norms.”

British Airways is not the first airline to adopt a new inclusive vocabulary.

British Airways back plane
A spokesperson for BA said: “We celebrate diversity and inclusion and we’re committed to ensuring that all our customers feel welcome when travelling with us.” (Image: Birmingham Airport)

As a matter of fact, Japan Airlines started using gender-neutral terms in 2020, in a bid to “create a positive atmosphere and treat everyone with respect”.

Consequently, Mark Morimoto, a Japan Airlines spokesman, explained last year that “greetings and announcements in English at the airport and in the cabin would use gender-neutral language” including using terms such as “all passengers” and “everyone”.

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport
British Airways will now be counted among progressive airlines, leaving gender-based greetings behind (Image: PA)

Additionally, Australian airline Qanta opted for more inclusive language already in 2018 when they decided to use “parents” instead of “mother” and “father”, as well as advising its staff to avoid “casual gendered language” when holding conversations with each other such as “honey” and “guys”.

In 2019, Air Canada announced they would drop heteronormative greetings, and made the following statement on CTV News: “We will be amending our onboard announcements to modernise them and remove specific references to gender.

“We work hard to make sure all employees feel like valued members of the Air Canada family, while ensuring our customers are comfortable and respected when they choose to travel with us.”

Japan Airlines plane

Japan Airlines started using gender-neutral terms in 2020 (Image: Daily Post Wales)

British Airways will now be counted among progressive airlines which will, too, be leaving gender-based greetings behind, and use a gender-neutral language instead.

A spokesperson for the UK’s second-largest carrier said: “We celebrate diversity and inclusion and we’re committed to ensuring that all our customers feel welcome when travelling with us.”

In addition, Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder of the advertising agency WPP, explained to The Sunday Telegraph that passengers appeared to be “no longer bothered by the use of traditional greetings”. He said: “Whether that’s fortunate or unfortunate, it’s a sign of the times”.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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