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American Airlines becomes second carrier to offer non-binary gender option

Matthew McNulty

American Airlines became the second carrier to offer customers a non-binary gender option when booking flights, joining United Airlines which began doing the same in March.

Travelers can now designate "U" or "X" for their gender by calling the airline and booking flights, while the same option will soon be added to the airline's website, an option the rest of the five top airlines in the U.S. are in the process of implementing, as well.

"We recently completed a system update to offer non-binary gender selections," company spokesperson Ross Feinstein told USA Today. "Taking care of our customers and team members is what we do, and we are glad to be able to better accommodate the gender preferences of our travelers and team members," he added.

The industry's two biggest trade groups, Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association, have approved a best-practices list that included accommodations for those with "non-binary IDs."

The airline said there were practical reasons behind the change, as it had to comply with recently-implemented regulations regarding new IDs, which now offer the ability to designate one's gender as non-binary.

Over 7,000 gender X driver's licenses and ID were issued across nine states and the District of Columbia, USA Today reported in August. Arkansas, Oregon, Minnesota, Maine, Utah, Colorado, California, Indiana, Nevada and Vermont now all offer the option of a non-binary gender designation, with similar policies in Maryland, New Hampshire and Hawaii going into effect in the coming months.

The influx of these new designations have created issues in American Airlines' systems, with the new non-binary gender option not recognized in their previous hardware.

“We have to comply with regulations on the new IDs in our systems, we are getting error messages when we scan or enter in the ID information. It was causing system issues, especially for those traveling internationally,” a source within the airline told FOX Business.

United had its employees undergo training, where they learned to implement preferred pronouns, among other mandates, with the assistance of LGBTQ organizations The Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project, according to USA Today.

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"By providing non-binary gender selection for ticketing and the gender-inclusive honorific 'Mx' in user profiles, United Airlines is taking an important step forward for non-binary inclusion," Beck Bailey, acting director of the Workplace Equality Program at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement obtained by the news outlet.

Meanwhile, Delta and Southwest airlines may be the next carriers to follow suit, with both carriers releasing statements expressing similar sentiments following the news of American Airlines new non-binary gender policy.

"Delta works throughout our business to accommodate the needs of our diverse customers," a company spokesperson said, according to USA Today. "As part of that effort, we are exploring options to be even more inclusive by offering a non-binary gender option during the booking process."

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A Southwest Airlines spokesperson echoed Delta's statement, saying "please know that while we don't have a time frame to share, Southwest is currently investigating solutions and the technical requirements needed to provide our customers non-binary gender marker options during the booking process."

A spokesperson for the another one of the five largest U.S. airlines, Alaska, told USA Today that they would be implementing similar options for non-binary gendered travelers.

"The appropriate teams at Alaska are working to finalize our plans and still determining when this capability will be available to our guests," Alaska Airlines spokesman Ray Lane told USA Today, while noting that the company remains "committed to providing non-binary gender options for our guests when booking and traveling."

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