An increasing number of airlines are stepping up their commitment to inclusivity, with many saying they'll start offering new booking options for nonbinary passengers.
The effort, already implemented by United Airlines, comes in the wake of a new international best-practices standard from Airlines for America (A4A) and International Air Transport Association (IATA), which suggests accommodation for travelers using nonbinary IDs.
United customers now have the ability to identify themselves while booking as M(male), F(female), U(undisclosed), or X(unspecified), corresponding with what is indicated on their passport or identification.
"United is determined to lead the industry in LGBT inclusivity, and we are so proud to be the first U.S. airline to offer these inclusive booking options for our customers," said Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer, United Airlines. "United is excited to share with our customers, whether they identify along the binary of male or female or not, that we are taking the steps to exhibit our care for them while also providing additional employee training to make us even more welcoming for all customers and employees."
As part of implementing these new changes, United worked with the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project on employee training initiatives. These initiatives include teaching employees about preferred pronouns and the persistence of gender norms, LGBT competency in the workplace, and other steps to make United an inclusive space for both customers and employees.
"At the Human Rights Campaign, we believe being acknowledged as the gender you identify with is part of treating everyone with dignity and respect," said Beck Bailey, acting director of the Workplace Equality Program. "By providing nonbinary gender selection for ticketing and the gender-inclusive honorific 'Mx' in user profiles, United Airlines is taking an important step forward for nonbinary inclusion."
"The Trevor Project is grateful for United Airlines' support of our life-saving work on behalf of LGBTQ youth," said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project. "We are thrilled to bring Trevor's expertise on the mental health of LGBTQ people to United to ensure its employees maintain safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ employees and guests."
According to USA Today, American, Delta, Southwest and Alaska Airlines are all planning to follow suit, though as of the publishing of this article have yet to do so.
In other efforts, Delta announced over the summer that it will begin identifying employees who are proficient in sign language with uniform language bars, displayed underneath their name tags, later in fall 2019. Delta is the first U.S. airline to offer this option and with this improvement, the airline said, customers and qualified employees will immediately be able to visually recognize when they hold sign language as a common connection.
"Our mission is to connect the world, which starts with making travel easier for all people," said Delta CEO, Ed Bastian, in a statement.
"It's a small step on our journey, but a powerful change as we seek to make the world a smaller, more inclusive place."
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.