‘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

Town grants Chamber $20K

Chamber estimates up to $65K in lost revenue, turns to council for help

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

New Salt Boutique the realization of a vision for owner Caroline Marko

Marko combines the rough and the soft in a minimalist, clean airy space

Coastal GasLink pipeline work ramps up

With spring thaw ending, workers start to arrive for summer season

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Class will look different at Coast Mountain College this September

The college is embracing a distributed learning model

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

Most Read