Japan Airlines is bringing in a small but significant change to passenger announcements. The airline says it is going to replace the phrase "ladies and gentlemen" with "passengers" or similar gender-neutral language. The move only affects English-language announcements, since the equivalent Japanese phrase is already gender-neutral, but the move is a first for an airline in deeply conservative Japan, where gay marriages aren't legally recognized, reports the New York Times. Earlier this year, the airline also relaxed its dress code requirement, allowing female flight attendants to choose to wear pants instead of skirts and making high heels optional.
The move "is a small deal that most people do not really care about because this change in announcement in English cannot be understood nor noticed by almost all the Japanese-speaking passengers," Professor Kazuya Kawaguchi, a sociologist at Hiroshima Shudo University, tells the BBC. He adds, however, that "as one of the leading LGBT-friendly enterprises" in Japan, their efforts "should be appreciated" and will likely encourage smaller companies to be more inclusive. A few other major airlines worldwide, including Air Canada and easyJet, have already ditched "ladies and gentlemen." (Read more Japan stories.)