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Japan Airlines Becomes Latest to Go Gender Neutral

Image of a Japan Airlines jet from above

As of October 1, 2020, passengers on Japan Airlines will no longer hear a gendered greeting, as the company moves to further embrace diversity.

In a written statement JAL representative Mark Morimoto, tells Out Traveler, “Back in 2014, the JAL Group declared our commitment to diversity. We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat our customers and employees with respect. At JAL, we have committed to not discriminate based on gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal attributes. This recent movement is to promote a gender-neutral greeting at our airport and inside the aircraft.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard Japan Airlines,” has been replaced by the gender-neutral greeting, “Good morning, welcome aboard Japan Airlines.” Likewise, “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be taking off shortly,” has been replaced by “Attention all passengers, we will be taking off shortly.”

JAL is the latest to embrace a gender-neutral greeting, following JetBlue Airlines, Air Canada, and EasyJet which all adopted the language last year.  "To be more inclusive, we removed 'ladies and gentlemen' from all our gate and onboard announcements in June 2019," JetBlue representative Derek Dombrowski tells Out Traveler. "In addition, we have added a pop-up to our website to explain our reasoning for asking for gender which is a government requirement."

Anna Catchpole, a representative of Virgin Atlantic notes that the air travel company made the change even earlier, "Virgin Atlantic is proud to be a diverse airline, welcoming of everyone, and we will never discriminate. We stopped using ladies and gentleman a number of years ago."

"United’s onboard announcements are already gender neutral," adds that airline's representative Annabelle Cottee.

Although Japan Airlines did not issue a press release about the change, Morimoto noted that the airline invited local media in Japan to visit Haneda airport on October 1st to listen to the new announcements.

According to the BBC, the news isn’t a big deal in Japan, because the Japanese expression used in these announcements is already gender-neutral.

“It is a small deal that most people do not really care about because this change in announcement in English cannot be understood nor noticed by almost all the Japanese-speaking passengers,” Kazuya Kawaguchi, a sociologist at Hiroshima Shudo University told the BBC.

“However, as one of the leading LGBT-friendly enterprises [in Japan]...[their] efforts should be appreciated and therefore will be and must be a significant step forward to the improvement... of other LGBT+ issues,” Kawaguchi continued. “I think that it is important for big companies to start good practice[s like this]...because other medium or small-sized companies tend to follow.”

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