‘Fly How You Identify’: United Now Offers Non-Binary Gender Booking Options
By Victoria M. Walker
During booking, United customers now can identify themselves as M(male), F(female), U(undisclosed) or X(unspecified), corresponding with what is indicated on their passports or ID cards, according to a press release.
United is the first airline, it says, to offer gender-inclusivity in flight bookings. The airline is working with The Trevor Project, which provides services to LGBTQ youth, and the Human Rights Campaign.
“United is excited to share with our customers, whether they identify along the binary of male or female or not,” said United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist. United says it will also offer conduct training with its staff.
While some social media users made light of the news online (“My gender-non-conforming Malti-poo, Izzy, thanks you,” one person wrote) LGBTQ activists reacted with joy to the news.
“Airports are already stressful enough without having to worry if your boarding pass matches your gender identity, and United’s new policy is an important step forward to ensure all of their customers are treated with dignity and respect,” said Garden State Equality’s executive director in a statement. United is New Jersey’s largest airline provider with Newark Liberty Airport being a major domestic and international hub.
American, Delta, United, Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue confirmed to the Associated Press in February that they were also in the process of adding non-binary options.
While airlines have made some progress in being inclusive, carriers as a whole still have work to do. In July 2018, Alaska Airlines came under fire after a flight attendant was accused of separating a gay couple so that a straight couple could sit together. Alaska called the incident a “seating error.”
“We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane,” the man, David Cooley, wrote on Facebook after the alleged incident. “I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave.”
Victoria M. Walker
Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.