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Air Malta drops binary, gendered greetings to welcome ‘all passengers’

Josh Milton September 9, 2021
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A Malta Air Boeing 737-8-200 MAX takes off

A Malta Air Boeing 737-8-200 MAX takes off. (Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Air Malta is to drop gender-specific language when addressing passengers.

The airline is scrapping phrases such as “welcome, ladies and gentleman” in favour of more inclusive language, such as: “Attention, all passengers.”

Staff will also be encouraged to refer to passengers as “guests” and other more universal terms in a bid to help trans, non-binary and intersex people feel comfortable, the airline announced Tuesday (7 September).

“Diversity and equality are core values at Air Malta, and the airline welcomes all its customers, irrespective of their nationality, race, political ideology, religion, and gender,” Air Malta said in a statement, Times Malta reported.

Gendered terms to be left behind on the tarmac, says Air Malta

In an internal memo sent to employees, Air Malta executive chairman David Curmi said the new policy applies to addressing customers both up in the air and on the tarmac.

“For an airline with a multicultural clientele, inclusion is a very important value, and we want to express this attitude shift in our language as well,” Curmi wrote in the memo.

He added that gendered language will also be abandoned across all company documentation, such as contracts and operation manuals.

The local carrier joins a raft of other airlines to adopt gender-neutral greetings, such as Japanese Airlines, EasyJet and Air Canada. Australia’s Qantas was among the first carriers to do so when it launched a “Spirit of Inclusion” initiative in 2018.

Words such as “honey, “love”, and “guys” were barred, and staff are now encouraged to use terms such as “partner”, “spouse” and “parents”.

US airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, United and American Airlines announced jointly in 2019 that they will allow passengers to book flights without specifying a binary gender.

The Airlines for America trade association hashed out what became an industry standard for air services – adding an “unspecified” option to passenger forms.

Some European airlines have also moved away from such restrictions, with Air Italy similarly rolling out a non-binary gender category when booking tickets – the first in the continent to do so.

Such moves will soon be reflected in American passports, where an “X” option will soon be introduced by the State Department, which issues federal identification documents.

Related topics: gender neutral language

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