Major US airlines allow gender-neutral option on ticket bookings

Band David Shepardson

July 1 (Reuters)Major U.S. airlines have agreed to update their IT systems by the end of 2024 to allow travelers to purchase tickets with an “X” gender marker, an airline trade group confirmed on Friday.

US Senator Ron Wyden, in a letter to Airlines for America chief executive Nick Calio, which was seen by Reuters, said member airlines were committed to change after he engaged with the group. A spokeswoman for the airline confirmed that Wyden’s letter was accurate.

Airlines for America represents passenger carriers Delta Air Lines DAL.NUnited Airlines UAL.OAmerican Airlines AAL.OSouthwest Airlines LUV.NAlaska Airlines ALK.NHawaiian Airlines HA.O and JetBlue Airways JBLU.O.

In March, the Biden administration said Americans would be allowed to choose an “X” for gender on their passport applications and select their gender on Social Security cards.

“No one should have to misunderstand each other to book a flight,” Wyden wrote. “And, by forcing travelers to book their ticket with inaccurate gender information, airlines also end up providing inaccurate information to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).”

Wyden’s letter states that “member airlines will post a page on their websites detailing specific steps non-binary people can take to obtain tickets that reflect their gender, such as working with a customer service representative who can update manually update the gender marker on their post.”

Wyden’s letter noted that United and American Airlines “have already changed their reservation process to allow travelers to book tickets with an X gender marker, but not all U.S. airlines have followed their lead.”

The State Department said in June 2021 that US citizens can select their gender on applications without having to submit medical documentation. In October, it issued the first US passport with an “X” gender marker.

The TSA said in March it would implement gender-neutral screening at its checkpoints with changes in imaging technology, reducing the number of pat-down screenings, removing gender identification from checkpoints checking and updating TSA PreCheck to include an “X” gender marker on its app.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)

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