Canadian airlines waiting for clarity before changing policies on ticket gender options

Canada's largest airlines are awaiting details from the federal government before they follow their U.S. counterparts in allowing travellers to choose gender designations outside the traditional "male" and "female" check-in categories.

U.S. airlines say they are in the process of updating their booking tools to provide more options

Major U.S. airlines said last week they will change their ticketing process so that passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines. (Olivier Jean/Reuters)

Canada's largest airlines are awaiting details from the federal government before they follow their U.S. counterparts in allowing travellers to choose gender designations outside the traditional "male" and "female" check-in categories.

Major U.S. airlines said last week they will change their ticketing process so that passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines.

That change comes after a pair of major trade groups — the International Air Transport Association and Airlines for America — approved updated standards to allow member airlines to offer two new gender options: "unspecified" or "unidentified."

In 2017, Ottawa announced that travellers will at some point be able to specify their gender with an "X" on their passport, instead of "F" for female or "M" for male." The website for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says the change is coming "soon." Until then, passengers can request an "observation" on their passport that notes their sex should be marked as "X," the site states.

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Air Canada, WestJet Airlines Ltd. and other companies, tells The Canadian Press that members are "awaiting developments and details" on the plan before altering their check-in systems.

U.S.-based airlines American, Delta and United confirmed Friday that they are in the process of updating their booking tools to add a similar option, implementing it in the next several weeks. They are making the check-in change despite resistance to non-binary passport options from the State Department.