United Becomes First US Airline to Roll out Non-Binary Gender Booking Option

Mar 22, 2019

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As we previously reported on TPG, airlines such as Southwest and American Airlines have stated their intention to add a non-binary gender option for passengers when going through the booking process. Now, United Airlines, has become the first domestic airline to officially implement the change.

In a press release on Friday, United shared the news that, “Customers now have the ability to identify themselves as M(male), F(female), U(undisclosed) or X(unspecified), corresponding with what is indicated on their passports or identification.” United says the changes are available “throughout all booking channels,” including MileagePlus customer profiles.

United Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist said in the release that, “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.”

In addition to inclusive booking options, United will also be working with the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project to implement “additional employee training” to make the company “even more welcoming for all customers and employees.” Training will include, “teaching employees about preferred pronouns and the persistence of gender norms, LGBT competency in the workplace and other steps [the company can take] to make United an inclusive space for both customers and employees.”

While this is a huge step for those who do not identify as male or female, non-binary travelers still face the hurdle of getting a legal non-binary ID. Currently, only five states plus Washington, DC, allow people to get a driver’s license with an “X” as a gender marker as opposed to simply “M” or “F.”

When asked for an update on previously stated plans to implement similar changes, a spokesperson for Southwest told TPG, “We continue to investigate solutions and the technical requirements needed to provide our Customers non-binary gender marker options during the booking process. We still do not have a timeframe to share.”

A spokesperson for American told TPG that the airline is currently “working to implement non-binary options” for its customers, but did not have a roll-out date to provide at this time.

Similarly, Delta said that as part of its “ongoing efforts to reflect inclusivity and respond to the needs of [its] diverse customer population” it is “planning to offer a non-binary gender option during the booking process, ” but did not provide a timeline.

Hawaiian Airlines, too, said it’s “currently working to ensure [its] technical infrastructure is ready to accommodate the new gender identifiers,” and will implement the changes “before the IATA deadline.”

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