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Here’s How Flight Attendants Spot Victims Of Human Trafficking On Flights

By DeAnna Taylor

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Human trafficking is becoming a serious problem across our nation. There were over 450,000 victims between 2012 and 2018, according to the U.S. State Department. Young women and children are being taken at alarming rates and now the world is on high alert.

Several airlines have invested in extra training for their flight attendants in hopes that they will be able to spot victims and report it to the proper authorities.

“It’s important that flight attendants not profile certain kinds of passengers or put themselves in danger, “Brady Byrnes, the managing director of flight-service recruitment, training, and administration for American Airlines, told Business Insider. “We don’t want to put our flight attendants in any harm whatsoever,” he said.

If someone is suspected of being a victim, attendants are trained to. notify the Captain who in turn notifies airline’s system-operations-control employees. They provide the Captain with information that helps them to learn more about the victim and possibly where they are flying too.

If you want to be on alert as well, here are 5 ways that you too can spot victims of human trafficking while flying.

A young passenger who isn’t traveling with luggage.

Of course, small children require certain things and necessities. Therefore, if you spot a young person traveling with absolutely nothing at all, this may be a sign that they are a victim.


An adult traveling companion does not allow a young passenger to talk to the flight attendant about where he or she is traveling.

Children are inquisitive and most enjoy speaking with people they barely know. If you notice the child’s adult companion trying to ensure that they don’t talk to others, this may be a sign.

Related: Minnesota Hotels Hope To End Sex Trafficking With Required Training

A young passenger is constantly being watched by an adult companion.

This one can be a little hard to draw the line on because most parents will watch their children closely anyway. However, if you can pick up on behaviors that seem a little odd, it is best to report it.

A young passenger’s hand stays very close to an adult’s hand, possibly concealing a handcuff.

Children tend to move around a lot, especially on an airplane. If you spot a child being forced to stay in their seat and not move, please notify an attendant.

A young passenger won’t acknowledge or make eye contact with the flight attendant.

This goes hand in hand with the point made above. Children love to look at people and engage with them. If you can sense that they are being forced to do the opposite, it could mean that they are a victim.

While these signs may not be the end-all-be-all to spotting victims, it can definitely help to keep you in notice when traveling.

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DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.

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