Most airlines have shared a similar greeting tradition for decades: a scripted announcement that plays through the overhead speakers after passengers find their seats. But in a newfound effort to be more inclusive, and more conscious of how people identify, Air Canada will be breaking from the status quo: the airline will no longer use gendered terms to address passengers.
“We will be amending our onboard announcements to modernize them and remove specific references to gender,” a spokesperson for the airline told CTV News in an email. “We work hard to make sure all employees feel like valued members of the Air Canada family, while ensuring our customers are comfortable and respected when they choose to travel with us.”
Rather than use terms like “ladies and gentlemen” or “mesdames et messieurs,” flight attendants will instead opt for gender neutral phrases, like “everyone” and “tout le monde.”
The protocol change was announced to employees via a company-wide email, which, according to Simple Flying, described the amendment as a means of ensuring “an inclusive space for everyone, including those who identify with gender X.”
The airline also noted that the change reflects its “commitment to respect gender identity, diversity and inclusion.”
Though it hasn’t been implemented yet, the change has already inspired a polarizing response from some people on Twitter, some of whom believe the airline is offensive, or pandering to “politically correct” culture. (Some have also argued it signifies the implosion of society.)
Others, though, have expressed their support for the new policy. Many have noted the pivot to a gender neutral vocabulary is a change that has the potential to make people feel valued, seen, and comfortable.
Despite the controversy, other airlines have made their language more inclusive. Earlier this year, United Airlines became the first airline to introduce a non-binary gender option for passengers booking flights, setting an example for others — like JetBlue, Southwest and Air Italy — to follow closely behind in their respective attempts to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.
This year also marked the fourth consecutive time that Air Canada was named one of the nation’s Best Diversity Employers, for its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for employees.
“We continually nurture diversity and inclusivity by offering equal career opportunities to qualified members of all communities. The recruitment partnerships we have undertaken with First Nations, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and other communities all aim to replenish our diverse talent base,” an Air Canada spokesperson said in a press release in March.