The final of the Big Three U.S. airlines has made the move towards providing non-binary gender options. American Airlines follows the likes of United Airlines and Delta Air Lines in providing more than just male and female gender options when booking flights.
More than just male or female
American Airlines will now have U and X gender options for passengers who do not identify with a binary gender. The airline is reported to have made the change after an organization that it belongs to said that there was no reason for a person to declare their gender when they fly. Airlines for America asked all its nine members to participate in offering more diverse gender options. As a result, American Airlines’ new gender codes allow passengers to select ‘U’ as undisclosed or ‘X’ as unspecified.
This latest modification is supposed to demonstrate a more worldly-wise and cosmopolitan approach to gender. But who will be affected by this new gender-inclusive development? Well, research indicates that 25-35% of the transgender community specify themselves as non-binary.
Since research in this area of society is limited, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people have a non-binary gender. However, as the world becomes more open to the needs of others who fall outside of antiquated gender norms, changes like American Airlines’ will be more prevalent and beneficial in the future.
How do passengers access AA’s U and X gender codes?
This change should be available for passengers when booking flights. However, it only appears to be running in the back-end of American Airlines’ operations. When I went to book a flight, I only had the option of selecting my gender as male or female.
A reservation agent from American Airlines explained to View from the Wing that the option to choose U or X would only appear when American’s CRM system detected a blank for gender. It said:
“AACoRN will display a blank space for some AAdvantage customers that don’t have a gender code registered in [CRM system] Ventana. When AACoRN displays a blank space ensure you change the gender code to M, F, U or X as applicable”.
It’s perhaps not the most user-friendly. But at least the option is there.
Doing more for gender
Whilst this inclusivity development is good for those it benefits, it seems as though this change is a rather low level when it comes to combatting prejudice and inequality. In fact, there is a lot more that airlines, like American, could do to iron out the gender imbalances.
If there is a real commitment to non-binary passengers, then shouldn’t more be done to ensure that throughout the whole journey customers feel equal? As it is, most in-flight announcements will distinguish gender with the words “ladies and gentlemen.” Very few airlines have adopted a more neutral way of addressing their passengers.
In October, however, Air Canda introduced gender-neutral announcements on board their flights. The whole experience of flying should be one that fosters an inclusive environment. That means broader language and signage as well as a diverse employee base.
But how inclusive can we really expect the aviation industry to be at this stage? It’s no secret that there is still a significant gender imbalance when it comes to female employees. Airlines are still trying, some successfully, to create gender equality for women let alone for transgender and non-binary employees. The industry still has a lot of catching up to do to stay on the front foot of our diverse society.
What do you think about non-binary gender options? Do you believe that airlines could be doing more? Let us know in the comments below!