Human trafficking is a serious issue in United States and abroad. Sometimes, victims of human trafficking are forced to travel by aircraft against their will. For this reason, flight attendants are now being trained to spot potential victims of human trafficking.


Flight attendants are in a unique position because they watch passengers board aircrafts all day, every day. For this reason, they are often able to spot signs that the normal spectator may miss that could indicate human trafficking. Flight attendants are being trained to recognize some specific signs and discreetly report them to their captains. The flight attendant’s safety is prioritized, and the captain will relay the message to those on the ground who can look into the identity of the potential human trafficking victim.


Flight attendants are trained to look for adults who are traveling with a passenger who is much younger than them and do not share their last name or have similar physical appearances. Individuals who are victims of human trafficking usually have a one-way ticket. Additionally, young passengers who have no luggage or other personal belongings may be victims of human trafficking.


Other behaviors that flight attendants are trained to watch out for include a young passenger not being able to do things by themselves. This may include a young passenger who is not allowed to go to the bathroom by themselves or order a beverage or snack. Additionally, flight attendants listen for young passengers who provide inconsistent answers when asked where they are traveling. Some victims of human trafficking won’t speak at all during a flight. This may also be accompanied by a lack of eye contact with the flight attendant or other passengers on the plane.


Lastly, it is important to glance at the young traveler’s proximity to the adult. Sometimes the adult keeps a young passenger close to them to conceal a handcuff or restraint. Flight attendants are trained to notice the most minute details that could be the difference between life and death for the young passenger.


Training is offered for free to flight attendants who want to expand their knowledge and skill set. If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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