Airline rating agencies consistently rank Japan Airlines (JAL) as one of the world’s best airlines. Having flown Japan Airlines many times because it is a Oneworld airline alliance partner of American Airlines, the airline with which I maintain my primary frequent flyer account, I concur with that assessment. The airline represents admirably the finest traditions of Japanese culture.

JAL 777-300ER first class suite and caviar service (below)


Today I was a bit surprised to read an article announcing that effective October 1, 2020, JAL will no longer use the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” or otherwise refer to gender in announcements to groups of passengers. This change is being implemented in airports and on planes.

The article quotes a JAL statement today that the airline will refrain from using expressions that are based on two sexes (such as ladies and gentlemen) and replacing them with gender-neutral language like “good morning” and “good evening.”

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JAL 777-200 business class Japanese dinner first course

In spite of aberrations like Robot Restaurant and Shinjuku Kabukicho, Japan impresses me as being fairly conservative socially. Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage. This move, however, is being made as an accommodation to those who do not identify as male or female.

JAL first class lounge Narita Satellite Terminal

On the other hand, dumping “ladies and gentlemen” may not be as big of a deal as some will view it because, in Japanese, the expression generally used for such announcements is already gender-neutral. This change merely applies to announcements in English and other languages that use gender specific terms.

Japan Airlines is not the first airline to adopt this position. Air Canada and those progressive (dare I say sensible) Canadians made the switch in 2019. JAL may be starting a trend as main rival ANA (All Nippon Airways) is considering following suit.

Final Thoughts

I’m onboard (ha) with this decision although gender specific or gender neutral is not something I spend much time thinking about. But as someone who has felt the sting of non-inclusion in some situations, I welcome simple, inoffensive changes like this that consider the feelings of others.

How do you think this change will be accepted by customers who use gender specific phrasing? Will you miss the old terms? Please comment below. Thanks and happy Monday, if that is not a contradiction in terms.