Travel Industry, August 25, 2023

Rethinking the Need for Passenger Gender in Train Bookings

Why would you need to state your gender when buying a train ticket?

Your name – sure that could be useful. Your age – good to offer discount levels. Contact details – important to keep you informed. But beyond that, why gender?

In a world that is striving for greater inclusivity and acceptance, even the seemingly small things in our lives warrant closer examination. One such thing is the practice of requiring passengers to specify their gender when booking train tickets. While it might appear as a minor detail, this practice carries more weight than meets the eye.

Why it matters

Just as we value inclusivity in the workplace at All Aboard, we value our customers' right to express their identity when making train bookings.

By requiring gender details during the booking process, there's a risk of excluding those who identify beyond the traditional binary or who choose not to disclose their gender identity.

But let's delve deeper. Why is this information appropriate in the context of train journeys? Aside from unique scenarios like night trains with shared sleeping arrangements, there seems to be little justification for this requirement. For the vast majority of travelers, the primary concern is securing a seat and arriving at their destination in a timely manner. Requiring gender information in such cases feels antiquated and out of touch with the modern values of inclusivity and respect.

Change is afoot

With years in the industry, we're now seeing a slow but steady change of attitude. Some rail carriers are recognizing the importance of accommodating diverse gender identities. This is exemplified by Eurail's recent decision to support gender-neutral titles in their booking systems. This not only represents a nod to evolving norms in society but also a very real step toward making passengers feel acknowledged and valued for who they are.

The question arises: why persist with the requirement of passenger gender information at all? Does it genuinely enhance the travel experience or is it a vestige of the past? When examining the many professional titles available by carriers, such as "Dr.," "Prof. Dr.," and even "Prof. Dr. Dr.", embracing gender-neutral titles is a natural progression. It signifies a departure from gender as a binary construct, a recognition of the fluidity of identities, and serves as a message that travel is an experience meant for all, regardless of gender identity.

Pushing forward

The demand for passenger gender information is a relevant issue in the broader context, the context of inclusivity and acceptance. While there might be situations that justify the question, such as with night trains, it's important to question the default need for this data.

As fellow travelers and advocates for change, we encourage rail carriers to adopt a more inclusive approach. One that respects and values the diverse identities of their passengers.

At All Aboard, we are happy that we can offer the option of gender-neutral titles for customers booking Interrail and Eurail Passes, as well as with the few carriers that support it, but there is still more work to be done. In this journey toward a more equitable travel landscape, let's ensure that everyone's identity is respected and celebrated.

Carl Törnqvist
Co-founder, All Aboard

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