How to spot human trafficking on the airplane

IMG_5051Super Bowl weekend is one of the biggest human trafficking events of the year in the U.S.  Because flight attendants are often the first line of defense, we’ve been trained to spot traffickers on the airplane.  It all started when Sandra Fiorini, an American Airlines flight attendant based in Chicago, tried to report a situation involving an eighteen year-old boy on a six-hour flight carrying a newborn infant with its umbilical cord still attached. No wife. Just one bottle of milk and two diapers stuck inside his pocket.  No one responded.  Fiorini later met Deborah Sigmund, founder of the organization Innocents at Risk, and soon they began working together with airline employees.

Flight attendants aren’t the only ones who can help. There are more frequent fliers now than ever before. Passengers should also be aware of what to look for while traveling.

Warning Signs
1. Someone who doesn’t have control over his/her own identification2. Someone who has few to no possessions.3. Someone who is not allowed to speak for themselves, or is made to speak through a translator

4. Someone who isn’t sure of where he or she lives or has no sense of time

5. Someone who avoids eye contact or appears fearful, anxious, tense, depressed, nervous, submissive.

6. Someone who rarely is allowed to come and go independently and may be accompanied by someone who controls their every movement

7. Someone who may be dressed inappropriately regardless of weather conditions.

Number to call 

Human Trafficking Hot line 1-888-373-7888.

There are more slaves today than any other time in human history. A person can be sold several times a day for many years, opposed to drugs that can only be sold once. Because of this human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, only second behind drug trafficking. It generates 32 billion annually for organized crime. Each year two million women and children become victims. 300,000 children within the United States are being trafficked each year. Most are forced into a life of prostitution and pornography in large urban areas such as Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Florida. If it can happen on my flight, it can happen on yours. Open your eyes. Get involved. Write that number down!



  1. This post is new dimensions of cool … thanks for this … hopefully the airlines would be in a position to assist if any of us frequent flyers were to notice something.

  2. Great initiative! I work for the UN in Sudan and there are many Ethiopian girls who are trafficked through to the Middle East.. You can see them in the Khartoum airport in groups – they often think they are going to a decent job, But we know they are going to be exploited. I am going to share your article widely. Thanks

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