By Richard Hack
There will be no more “ladies and gentlemen” addressed from the flight crews on Japan Airlines. Passengers are now being welcomed with a “Good morning everyone” or other such gender neutral hellos.
Japan Airline spokesman Mark Morimoto told Out Traveler: “Back in 2014, the JAL Group declared our commitment to diversity. We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat our customers and employees with respect. At JAL, we have committed to not discriminate based on gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal attributes. This recent movement is to promote a gender-neutral greeting at our airport and inside the aircraft.”
That being said, Japan Airlines has traditionally been a step ahead of its country where LGBTQ inclusion is concerned. In 2019, JAL provided a charter flight to bring LGBTQ celebrants from Tokyo to Pink Dot Pride, an annual celebration in Okinawa. And as early as 2017, the airline started to include family benefits to its out LGBTQ employees.
In a country where gay marriage is still illegal, the LGBTQ community is finding greater acceptance, particularly among the younger generations. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2002, just over half of Japanese people said they accepted homosexuality in 2002. In 2020, that number is closer to 70 percent. And among those 18 to 29, the figure is 92 percent.
For Japan Airlines, the move was just another nod to the pre-COVID financial impact that gay travellers brought to the marketplace spending some $218 billion worldwide according to a study published by Out Now.