‘Ladies and gentlemen’ a phrase of the past on board some Canadian airlines

Canadian officials permit travellers to choose gender designations outside traditional ‘male,’ ‘female’

Several Canadian airlines have scrubbed the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” from their in-flight announcements — or are considering the change — replacing the gendered language with non-binary terminology as part of a broader shift toward corporate inclusivity.

Air Transat said in an email it has stopped using the salutation as well as its French equivalent, “Mesdames et messieurs.” Air Canada says it will do likewise, amending its on-board announcements “to modernize them and remove specific references to gender.”

WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Sunwing Airlines Inc. still include the time-worn phrase in their in-flight announcements, but say they are mulling an edit.

“As our current announcements refer to guests as ladies and gentleman, we are taking this time to evaluate announcement updates for future inclusion,” said WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell in an email.

“We embrace all cultural, religious, racial, ability, gender, age, and sexual orientation dispositions,” wrote a Sunwing spokeswoman, saying the airline has received no negative feedback on the greeting. “However, we will certainly take this into account when we are re-evaluating our procedures in the future.”

In February, major U.S. airlines said they would change their ticketing process so that passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines, representing a victory for advocates of transgender recognition.

United Airlines announced in March that it would become the first American carrier to offer non-binary gender options across its booking channels, allowing customers to go by the honorific, “Mx.,” and identify themselves as male (M), female (F), undisclosed (U) or unspecified (X), so long as it corresponds to their passport or I.D.

American Airlines, Delta, British Airways and Air New Zealand have all pledged to provide similar options.

ALSO READ: Air Canada, WestJet expected to take financial hit from 737 Max 8 ban

Canadian officials followed their U.S. counterparts in June, permitting travellers to choose gender designations outside the traditional “male” and “female” categories on their passports and federal identification documents by opting for an X rather than M or F.

York University linguistics professor Sheila Embleton called the changes “a logical step” in the march toward equity and inclusion.

“I think it’s all just part of wanting people to feel more welcome,” she said.

Embleton said a quick cost-benefit analysis could show little downside to the change in terms. “It’s not like I’m going to get on the plane and say, ‘Hey, they used to call us ladies and gentlemen. What’s this newfangled, ‘Hello, everyone?’”

The phrase may also carry outdated connotations of formality and, with the word “ladies,” subordination, she added.

“It sounds a bit old-fashioned, almost…I can remember lots of times in the past when a speech would begin with that. But now, pretty seldom.”

Some observers warned of “woke-washing” — superficially adopting the latest progressive attitude as part of a corporate marketing strategy.

“There’s always that fear that there’s actually not systemic changes, there’s just these surface changes. But I think the surface changes are the start to something else. Or at least that’s the hope,” said Julia Sinclair-Palm, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies.

“It’s a move towards recognizing gender diversity, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” she said.

Not everyone is impressed. Helene Montreuil, a lawyer and trans advocate based in Quebec City, said the drive to embrace a myriad of identities may “go overly far.”

“It’s like when we talk about LGBT, and now it is LGBTQ2S+…the acronym is very long now. You will always forget someone. Is it necessary to do that?” Montreuil asked.

“In my case, I changed from male to female. I don’t care if they call me ‘everyone.’ But I prefer to be called ‘lady’ or ‘Ms.’ than ‘everyone.’”

Complications could also arise on foreign turf. “For example in Saudi Arabia, arriving with a passport with an X inside, I don’t know how they will treat me. That’s a problem,” she said.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ridge Meadows RCMP win national award for viral video

Local detachment will claim the Innovation in Crime Reduction award in its inaugural year

Ride-hailing licence expected in Maple Ridge by April 1

Regional licence now on council agenda

Maple Ridge RCMP continue search for Atefeh Jadidian

The police released a new photo showing the missing woman walking east on Dewdney Trunk Road

Street drug deaths drop by half in Maple Ridge

City last on list of 15 with highest number of fatalities

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Dragon boating changes lives for Spirit Abreast paddlers

The Cultus Lake based team is looking to fill a boat with breast cancer survivors and supporters.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Most Read