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 most big U.S. carriers will do so. The nation’s five biggest — American, Delta, United, Southwest and Alaska airlines — have all told USA TODAY that they plan to implement 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.
Other airlines expressed similar sentiments.
“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.
Southwest, the USA’s biggest low-cost carrier, also said it planned to add such an option.
In a statement, the airline told USA TODAY “that while we don’t have a timeframe to share, Southwest is currently investigating solutions and the technical requirements needed to provide our Customers non-binary gender marker options during the booking process.”
Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association say the change will let airlines comply with requirements under U.S. and foreign laws that passenger information must match what is on the person’s form of ID used for travel.
In 2017, Oregon became the first state to let residents identify themselves as neither male nor female on driver licenses and other ID cards. California, Colorado and a few other states have since begun allowing a nonbinary choice on their licenses.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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