British Airways apologises after female doctor told by website her ‘title and gender do not match’
Britain’s flagship airline British Airways has been forced to apologize after a doctor was unable to book flights with her title “Dr” because it “didn’t match” her female gender.
dr. Juliana (Jewel) Kling, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, shared a screenshot from her computer on Twitter that showed a “glitch” with the airline’s website.
After entering her passenger information, including a mandatory title entry, Dr. Kling an error message that reads: ‘We found some problems with the data you provided.
‘Title and gender don’t match. Try again.’
dr. Juliana King, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, shared a screenshot from her computer on Twitter showing the “glitch.”
Dr Juliana Kling (pictured) isn’t the only person to have reported issues with British Airways’ booking system based on their gender
She wrote: ‘Apparently ‘Dr’ and ‘woman’ don’t fit British Airways. I look forward to their answer.’
The tweet quickly went viral on social media as people accused the airline of sexism for allowing only men to use the title of Dr.
But dr. Kling was not the only one who had problems with British Airways’ booking system.
Another passenger had a similar problem with a title that doesn’t match their biological gender.
They asked British Airways for help online, pointing out that ‘titles are not even legally recognized parts of our identity and have nothing to do with gender’.
Another social media user responded to this post, pointing out that the airline had changed its logo to show the pride flag for Pride month.
British Airway responded to the passenger, saying it is looking into changing the system to better reflect how customers identify themselves.
But this caused some more backlash as social media users pointed out that positions like Dr are not how one identifies, instead titles they deserve.
Speaking to MailOnline, a British Airways spokesperson said the error messages aren’t related to passengers’ gender and instead stem from drop-down issues, such as if a passenger booked through a third-party website and then changed title to checking in.
However, this is not immediately apparent from the error message, which simply says: ‘Title and gender do not match.’
Multiple other women reported errors with the website that they say mean their booking defaulted to a man in the party – even if a woman booked it and the man is a minor.
A Twitter user, who responded to Dr. Kling, wrote: ‘Ridiculous! My friend also had an issue with British Airways where her flight for herself, her wife and her child was put in the name of her *2 year old son* because he was the only male on the booking.
“She received e-mails on his behalf because the system was male at first by default.”
Another British Airways passenger added that she had booked flights for her family using her contact details, only to receive all correspondence addressed to her husband.
She said, “It was so inappropriate.”
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, who spends time in both Dublin and London, also shared her experience of what she called British Airways’ “sexist algorithm”.
She said she booked a surprise trip for her husband’s birthday, but it failed after the website automatically designated him as the lead traveler.
She added: “I couldn’t change any details without his permission… I complained about it, but got no response.”
And writer and director Saran McDougall was left furious after a similar incident.
“I have this with BA too. My account, my email, my credit card, but all correspondence is addressed to my male partner at the time of booking. Irritating!!’
And another passenger had trouble when the airline awarded one of her sons a “Mr” title, and the other “Master,” with no option to change — even though they were both under 10 when it first happened.
British Airlines told MailOnline that despite appearances, these issues have nothing to do with gender.
A spokesperson said their booking system will automatically list passengers in alphabetical order regardless of gender, and correspondence will then be sent to the name that appears alphabetically first.
When asked whether this is also applied regardless of the passenger’s age, the airline confirmed that it does – meaning the airline can even address correspondence to a toddler.
In June 2020, British Airways responded to a passenger on social media who asked why, despite his wife booking and paying for the tickets and being listed as the first and foremost traveller, all correspondence for her family trip was addressed to her husband.
When the passenger continued to ask why his name was on all correspondence, BA replied: ‘We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused, Mikk.
However, every email sent will be addressed to the lead passenger on the booking and not to every person.
“This is an automatic system, so it cannot be changed. Rest assured that your comments have been fed back.”
Two years later, in 2022, no action has been taken to change this system – although BA said it is something they are investigating.
Other social media users shared their outrage with comments like “what century is this?”, “You’re kidding right?!,” and even a gif from Margaret Atwood’s television series The Handmaid’s Tale labeled “under his eye.”
A BA spokesperson said of Dr. Kling: “We’re sorry for a technical issue that occurred in a drop-down list on our website, and we’re investigating it urgently.”
It once again reassured passengers that the issues are not related to the gender of the booking passenger.