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BA forced to apologise after website refuses to accept woman using the title Doctor
1 July 2022, 13:44 | Updated: 1 July 2022, 14:02
British Airways have been forced to apologise after their website experienced a booking "glitch" and refused to recognise a woman using the title doctor.
The airline said it was "urgently investigating" the issue but claimed it was a "glitch" on only one drop down box on the website following a customer complaint.
American traveller Dr Juliana Kling raised the issue on Twitter last night after the BA website gave her the error message: "Title and gender do not match. Please try again."
She wrote: "Apparently ‘Dr’ and ‘woman’ do not match on British Airways. Looking forward to their reply."
A spokesperson for BA said: "We're sorry for a technical issue that has occurred in one drop down box on our website and we're urgently investigating."
The error message prompted several angry responses on social media, with users accusing the airline of sexism.
While one claimed the airline's system defaults to using a male passengers details as the lead passenger in a group booking.
"Ridiculous!", she wrote in response to Dr Kling. "My friend also had an issue with British Airways where her flight for herself, her wife and her child was put into her *2 year old son's name* because he was the only male on the booking.
"She was receiving emails in his name because the system defaulted to male first."
Others pointed to an incident three years ago when a customer complained that BA did not offer the prefix "Mx" after receiving the same message from the airline's website.
Lee-Anne, the complainant, wrote on Twitter at the time: "Titles are not even legally recognised parts of our identity and have nothing to do with gender. So please help me out."
Um @British_Airways ?? You don't provide Mx as a title, so I decided to change it to one that causes less dysphoria and I get this message?— Lee-Anne / only-two comics (@GreenLee_Anne) March 8, 2019
Titles are not even legally recognised parts of our identity and have nothing to do with gender. So please help me out. @CissexismDaily pic.twitter.com/zrLeZSDIjp
The airline apologised at the time and said BA was "considering" offering Mx as a prefix on the website.
A statement from the technical team released hours later said: "We know how important it is for all of our customers to feel comfortable and welcome no matter how they self-identify. We are working to see if we can change our booking platform to reflect this."
The latest controversy comes a week after BA check-in and ground staff at the West London airport voted to strike in a GMB and Unite backed ballot on 23 June.
Members of the GMB voted by 91 per cent in favour of industrial action while Unite said 94 per cent of its members backed action.
The vote means 700 members of staff are set to walk out during the peak holiday period in a dispute with the airline over pay.
The GMB union said a 10 per cent pay cut imposed by the airline during Covid has not been restored and there is fury over BA using "fire and rehire" practices to cut workers' pay during the pandemic.