British Airways has informed pilots and cabin crew that they must stop saying “ladies and gentleman” during onboard announcements in an effort to promote “diversity and inclusion.”
The Telegraph reported that the announcement came in the past few weeks, and while news reports indicate pilots and crew have been told not to say “ladies and gentleman” in favor of gender-neutral language, it is unclear what they should say instead.
“We celebrate diversity and inclusion and we’re committed to ensuring that all our customers feel welcome when travelling with us,” a spokesman for British Airways told the Telegraph. That spokesman also told I News that the airline was “committed to using inclusive language that makes all our customers feel welcome ” and had been “using inclusive language at the airport for over a year.”
I News also reported that Air Canada was the first major airline to switch to gender neutral greetings, making the change in October 2019. That airline says “everyone” instead of “ladies and gentlemen.”
Japan Airlines and Lufthansa made the change in July 2020. Those airlines say “dear guests” instead of “ladies and gentlemen.”
Air Malta and Australian airline Qantas have also removed “ladies and gentlemen” from their greetings.
Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency, told the Telegraph that passengers weren’t really concerned with traditional greetings.
“Whether that’s fortunate or unfortunate, it’s a sign of the times,” he told the outlet. “The important thing is not the announcements, it’s the food, the Wi-Fi, the service, the speed of getting on the plane and getting off the plane.”
To that end, the Daily Mail reported that British Airways faced criticism several months ago after it ended its traditional beverage-cart service. Passengers were asked to pre-order drinks or use an app to order, like they would in certain bars. The airline reportedly said ending the service was meant to cut weight and food waste, but the Mail reported that critics said it removed the personal touch and was another example of the airline reducing its services.
Airlines aren’t the only ones dealing with complaints about “inclusion.” As The Daily Wire reported in May, a British train company apologized to a “non-binary” passenger who claimed to be offended by the phrase. From The Daily Wire:
The “non-binary” passenger, who reportedly serves as the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union’s LGBT rep, tweeted to the London North Eastern Railway (LNER), “‘Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, boys and girls …’ so as a non binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me so I won’t listen @LNER.”
The train company replied, “I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our Train Managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. Please could you let me know which service you are on and I will ensure they will remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.”