Japan Airlines Replaces “Ladies & Gentlemen” With Gender Neutral Greeting

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines (JAL) is becoming the latest global airline to introduce gender neutral greetings for customers, as reported by AFP.

No more “ladies & gentlemen” greetings on JAL

As of October 1, 2020, JAL will stop addressing passengers as “ladies & gentlemen,” and will instead use gender neutral greetings like “good morning” and “good evening.”

This will apply both at airports and onboard flights. Announcements in Japanese already use gender neutral terms, so this decision primarily applies to announcements made by the airline in other languages.

This is a first for a Japanese airline. Rival airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) has said that it would “study the issue based on comments from customers.”

While Japan has in recent years expanded protections for the LGBT community, same sex marriage is still not legally recognized in the country.

That being said, JAL has been progressive in that regard, operating an “LGBT Ally Charter” flight last year, and also extending the same family privileges for employees with same-sex partners.

Japan Airlines is changing its approach to announcements

JAL is following in Air Canada’s footsteps

In October 2019, Air Canada became the first airline to change its greetings to be more gender neutral. The policy change was almost identical to what we’re seeing at JAL — Air Canada stopped referring to passengers as “ladies & gentlemen,” instead using terms like “good morning everyone.”

As the company explained, “we want to ensure an inclusive space for everyone, including those who identify with gender X.”

Air Canada introduced gender neutral terms last year

Being more inclusive is a good thing

Kudos to JAL for this change, which is particularly progressive by Japanese standards. I’m supportive of this — this shouldn’t negatively impact anyone, but it will make a big difference in making some people feel welcome and included.

The truth is that this is a very subtle change, and if it weren’t for this being in the press, chances are most people would never even notice this onboard a flight.

I’m sure some people will be in the comments section shortly with pitchforks, but I really think that’s unfounded. If you go to a restaurant and the server says “good evening, I’m Joe, and I’ll be taking care of you,” surely no one is offended, right? Similarly, this shouldn’t offend anyone either…

Being more inclusive of others — even if it’s only a very small minority of people — should be celebrated. That’s especially true when you consider that nothing is being taken away from anyone here.

And heck, even taking inclusiveness out of the equation, this change will lead to announcements being shorter, and that’s a win in my book.

Bottom line

Japan Airlines is becoming the second global airline to eliminate gender specific announcements in favor of more neutral ones. This was already done in Japanese, but will now be done in foreign languages as well.

This makes JAL the second global airline to make such a change, after Air Canada.

  1. Qantas has been using “Hello everyone” as the preferred greeting for quite a few years. This was done to not only sound more casual and friendly, but also to be more inclusive to all passengers.

  2. A minor but not insignificant step for a country, the only among the G7 that still does not have Marriage Equality.

  3. Idiotic move, nothing wrong with “Ladies and Gentlemen”, or as on some southeast Asian carriers and elsewhere, “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys an girls”. I think inflight civility improves inflight behaviour: the more one treats people as ladies and gentlemen, the more likely they are to behave in a manner becoming that.

  4. Before : ladies and gentleman our flying time from Tokyo to la will be 10 hours

    Now : good morning. 10,555,005 carbon footprints from Tokyo to la.

  5. The ‘neutral’ language is more distanced and less personal. This is very bad and damages the customer-brand relationship.

    If customers are just addressed as stupidly paying self-loading-cargo instead of what they are (honorable ladies and gentlemen) they don’t feel connected to that airline anymore and will freely book another airline next time.

  6. I think it is a good move. This whole ladies and gentleman thing has come to appear more and more strange to me anyway. It seems to emphasize that there is such a big difference between males and females, that they need to be greeted separately. Why should that be the case. We don’t say “welcome to our tall and short passengers” either.

  7. looking forward to all the comments from idiots who won’t be affected by this at all but will still get very huffy and worked up about it.

  8. What’s wrong with “Dear passengers” or “Dear guests”? That would also be inclusive without being as informal as “hello everyone”.

  9. I agree with @DaninMCI that the commenters throwing a hissy fit about this change are just virtue signalling. They know it doesn’t impact them but they’re acting like it’s some great tragedy simply so that they can signal to their in-group that they are taking the proper position of faux cutural outrage.

  10. If Ben hadn’t written this post I guess those of you that are complaining would have had no idea of the change.

    Which in fact brings the translations into line with the Japanese original.

    Snowflakes the lot of you!

  11. I think being more inclusive is great. Doing so with a greeting that basically excludes everyone, rather than include everyone, is not really a step in the right direction.

  12. People responding here need to learn actual Japanese before making ignorant remarks like Amos just did. Japanese does not have an equivalent to “ladies and gentleman.” In fact, Japanese does not even have an equivalent to Mr., Ms. and Mrs.

    The standard customer service greeting is gender neutral, essentially saying, “to everyone, with our humblest respects.” For more specific situations, people are addressed by their names or as the “honorable customer.”

  13. If Japan Airlines is going to be progressive, perhaps they can hand out name tags and have people write down their pronoun. I believe NYC recognizes 31 different genders. I wonder if you could select all of them: Zir, Zim, Dop, Duppity, Drop!

  14. @ Alex – but it’s hard to be bigoted when you learn new things about other people. You may end up understanding and relating with others. That’s dangerous territory for trolls – it challenges their identity.

    It also breaks the rules of commenting on the Internet: maximize self-absorption, minimize empathy. VFTW seems to be a supermagnet for that sort of behavior, but it’s apparently here as well.

  15. Definitely surprised that JAL would do that, but I’m super glad they made the move! It will only impact their English speaking fliers, since in Japanese there is no gendered salutations anyway (they would say “Minasama” which is a polite way to say “Everyone”).

    On a side note I’m always shocked by some of the crowd commenting on this blog… Why are you still reading? Every single time without fail, the bigots throw their little hissy fit like it’s the first time Lucky positions himself on human rights and society issues. You guys must be terribly bored and I feel sorry that you’re offended by something that make some people feel better while taking absolutely nothing away from you.

  16. @Clem, it really is fascinating how these people have nothing better to do than going blog to blog getting outraged about such small things. Are their lives really that empty? Why do they always insist on throwing these public tantrums?

    Ive been on plenty of flights where they say “good morning folks and welcome aboard…” or “attention passengers, this is your captain speaking…” and I sure as hell wasn’t triggered like these outrage machines in the comments section always are.

  17. Kudos to JAL!

    I like how there are so many rude and ignorant people (of both gender equality and Japanese culture) commenting under this post. Please, if you hate JAL so much, don’t be on any of their flight, and leave the greatness of JAL for us who appreciate it.

  18. I never like the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen”, not because of the gender angle, but because it is an unnecessary reference to old British social hierarchy. It is antiquated and quite patronizing in everyday use.

    BTW, “ladies” don’t even apply to all females; ladies are just wives of gentlemen. Women that are the female version of “gentlemen” in their own heredities are referred to as gentlewomen.

  19. Good morning?
    Good evening?

    What if the flight leaves exactly at noon?!?!




  20. > You bet they still say “Ladies and Gentleman” or whatever more polite version of that in Japanese and on domestic flights!

    This is especially funny because that phrase just didn’t exist in Japanese, let along being used.

  21. Wow, so much attention for such a stupid issue. Too bad there aren’t so many other problems in the world right now.

  22. Lol at the people who are personally insulted by this change. The irony of calling yourself a lady or a gentleman while screaming about “how dare they stop calling me a gentleman!” is so beyond juicy.

  23. As Alex points out there is no Japanese equivalent of Ladies and gentlemen. Every announcement begins with ‘Minasama’ which approximately means ‘respected everybody’. Sometimes ‘Okyakusama’ is used; approximately ‘honourable respected customer’.

    It’s good that they are dropping the Ladies and gentlemen for something that matches the more inclusive Japanese.

    Now, if they would do something about asking me to ‘please hold your baby’ on takeoff and landing. I always like to comply with crewmember direction, but having no baby I’ve never been able to.

  24. Conservatives… they get triggered by such minor things like treating everyone with respect instead of the subset that they think should receive exclusive respect. They are such feeble minded snowflakes.

  25. I don’t see why it would matter either way but it would have been more appropriate to simply say they were updating their greeting to better translate the greeting from Japanese rather than pretending to be PC. They are only trying to score brownie points with a sector of the population assuming the rest could care less.

  26. As long as they get me to and from my destination safely and comfortably I couldn’t really give a toss. There are real things to get upset about. This is definitely not one of them.

  27. I’m more offended by the term “guest” simply because a host does not charge their guest a fee. Passenger is more accurate. Just ask Judith Martin.

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