Lufthansa airline adopts gender-neutral ‘guests’ greeting

Planes are flying into more inclusive skies.

German airline group Lufthansa has dropped welcoming language that includes gendered phrases, including the traditional “ladies and gentlemen.” 

The company — which includes Lufthansa, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines — has begun instead referring to customers as “guests” or getting rid of the direct subject altogether and simply offering, “Good morning here on board,” CNN reported

The development follows a shift to exclusively gender-neutral language in internal company communication beginning in June of this year. Soon, the company plans to change its contracts and other documents to also be gender-neutral. 

“We have not banned addressing our guests as ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ — our aim is to welcome everyone on board on an equal basis,” Lufthansa said in a statement, according to CNN. However, there is no set replacement for “ladies and gentlemen,” the company clarified, and crew may choose their precise ungendered phrasing “depending on the context and situation.”

Not only context but country will also significantly impact how exactly flight crew phrase their greetings, as “the issue of gender-neutral language varies from country to country” a Lufthansa spokesperson said. 

Parked aircrafts operated by German airline Lufthansa are pictured at Berlin Brandenburg BER airport Willy-Brandt in Schoenefeld near Berlin on May 31, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

While most English nouns do not have a gender, that is not the case for German, French, Spanish and Italian nouns, making for a variety of linguistic variables. Lufthansa said it will adjust greetings depending on “whether gender-neutral language is already being used in the various countries and is already made possible by responsible institutions (such as the German Spelling Council).”

Lufthansa’s shift to gender-neutral language follows a switch by other aviators, including Japan Airlines (JAL) in 2020 and both EasyJet and Air Canada in 2019. 

Last month, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) committee report recommended that gendered aviation parlance including “airman” and “unmanned” should be altered to gender-neutral equivalents like “aviator” and “uncrewed” on an industry-wide basis, the Washington Post reported.