American Airlines Joins Fight Against Sex Trafficking

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An estimated 21 million people around the world are trapped in some form of modern day slavery, with airlines, hotels and other travel companies sometimes playing an unwilling role in the exploitation of victims. American Airlines is the latest and largest travel company that has pledged to step up efforts to protect victims of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation, the Dallas Morning News reports. The Fort Worth-based carrier will work with the non-profit ECPAT-USA to establish corporate policies, train its 120,000 employees and provide information to travelers on the issue. Delta Air Lines and Volaris are the only airlines so far to sign for ECPAT-USA’s child-protection code of conduct. “People think this is only happening in other countries,” said the group’s Michelle Guelbart. “They don’t realize it could be happening on a domestic carrier on a domestic flight.”

Guelbart says, “A victim doesn’t have to be moved, but often they are. So what happens is they have to get there somehow and if they are moved across a border or across a large distance, that can happen on an airline, or a bus or a train. There are certain signs that they could be exhibiting in that process. That makes it so airline employees, for example, are in an incredibly unique position to identify victims. Victims of sex trafficking are often exploited at hotels because traffickers believe that hotels are anonymous. They believe they’re risk free. So they’ll meet with buyers or have buyers meet them at hotels and that’s where the exploitation occurs.” She says airline employees should be suspicious if passengers aren’t holding their passports and other documentation.

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