‘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

Caledonia Sled Race organizer says volunteers from the community make the race possible

The Caledonia Classic Sled Races marked their silver jubilee this year

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Risk of coronavirus low for British Columbians: Northern Health

The agency wrote a letter to parents and guardians on Feb. 11 giving them advice and recommendations around the 2019 coronavirus

B.C. officials meet Wet’suwet’en chiefs over gas pipeline protest

Federal government needed to lift CN Rail blockade

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read