WestJet has issued an explanation and apology regarding its progress on adding non-binary options to its booking and check-in systems.
In a statement last week, the airline said it has encountered “several unexpected roadblocks” with its third-party providers to implement gender X into its systems.
“We are committed to rectifying these issues to stay true to our goals of creating an inclusive environment for everyone in WestJet’s world,” the airline wrote on its website on June 8.
The statement comes after transgender advocates in Canada called out WestJet for not allowing people to choose X as a gender, instead of male or female, when booking flights.
According to a report by CBC News, advocates say WestJet is violating their human rights.
"It is a legal gender marker in our laws, it's a violation of the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms]," Iz Lloyd, a non-binary person from Halifax who was recently denied boarding a WestJet flight until they conceded to identifying as their sex assigned at birth, told CBC News.
Lloyd, who uses the pronoun they, said their passport has an X instead of male or female.
"It's forcing people to travel and break rules,” Lloyd told CBC.
Adding gender X
WestJet says it welcomed the Government of Canada’s announcement regarding the implementation of gender X in the sex field of Canadian passports in 2019 “and made a commitment to make the necessary changes to our technology and systems to support the travel journey of our non-binary guests.”
“Originally, we anticipated the necessary technological changes required through our systems would take roughly one year to implement,” the company wrote. “However, due to several setbacks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are disappointed that we have not been able to deliver upon our commitment in the timeframe we expected, and that the implementation has been delayed.”
The airline said it is currently working to address several items including:
- Implementing changes to its domestic reservation systems to include gender X by the end of 2022.
- Investing in third-party software to move away from legacy practices and remove the need for a gender assignment to calculate weight distribution on aircraft.
- Advocating to third-party providers to enable gender X as part of the check-in process for international bookings.
- Engaging with our WestJetters and community members on how it can better support non-binary inclusion across our airline.
“As we work to ensure the option of gender X across our systems, we apologize for the frustration and disappointment this has caused and know there remains significant work to be done in this space,” the company noted.