U.S. airlines are on track to add a new gender option for “non-binary” passengers.
The effort comes as two big trade groups – Airlines for America (A4A) in the USA and the global International Air Transport Association (IATA) – have recently approved a new international best-practices standard that suggests accommodation for travelers using “non-binary IDs.”
The suggested standard will create an option for “unspecified” or “undisclosed” for passengers booking tickets. That option would be in addition to the options for “male” or “female.”
“U.S. airlines value a culture of diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and for our passengers, and we work hard each day to accommodate the needs of all travelers, while delivering a safe, secure and enjoyable flight experience,” A4A said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The suggested standard will become effective June 1. However, it will be up to individual airlines to make the option available to their booking platforms.
It appears that at least four big airlines will do so, though it’s possible more will eventually match the trade groups’ suggestion.
Delta, which is an IATA member but left A4A in 2015, confirmed that it will eventually offer the option.
“As part of Delta’s ongoing efforts to accommodate the needs of diverse customers throughout our business, we are planning to offer a non-binary gender option during the booking process,” the carrier said in a statement.
American, Alaska and United airlines also confirmed that they each are working to implement such an option. American is the USA’s biggest carrier, followed by Delta and United. Alaska is the USA’s fifth-biggest.
“As part of our commitment to inclusion, we want to ensure all of our customers feel comfortable and welcome no matter how they self-identify, which is why we will begin offering our customers the ability to select the gender with which they most closely identify during the booking process,” United said in a statement to USA TODAY.
United expected its update to be made “in the coming weeks,” adding “customers will be able to identify themselves as M(ale), F(emale), U(undisclosed), or X(unspecified), corresponding to what is indicated on their passports or ID. … Customers who do not identify with a gender will have the option of selecting ‘Mx.’ as a title.”
“We are excited to share this next step as we continue to break down barriers to promote inclusion,” United’s statement continued.
Some U.S. states, including California, have begun issuing IDs with three gender options. Beginning in 2019, The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, California, reports that applicants for driver’s licenses in that state can now “self-certify gender as male, female or nonbinary.”
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