‘Ladies and gentlemen’ a phrase of the past on board some Canadian airlines

‘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

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Head-on collision Jan. 14 claims one life west of Fort St. James

Jenkins said alcohol, as well as road surface conditions, have been ruled out as factors

Nechako River, Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Officials keeping close tabs on Nechako River after ice jam causes area flooding

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, though, said water levels have gone down, for now

Vanderhoof home sees water from the Nechako move up into the yard, and within hours, water was seen up to the deck. Ken Young, Vanderhoof councillor posted this photo on social media.
Mayor concerned about ice jams in the Nechako river

“We have never lived with a frozen river at this magnitude during our time in council,” mayor said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read