How Airlines and Travelers Can Fight Human Trafficking

Airport
Airport | © Skitterphoto/Pixabay
Nikki Vargas

Travel Editor

An estimated 800,000 people are trafficked each year, often being transferred via airports or hotels before being engulfed in the sordid world of sex trades. In an effort to stop these nefarious acts, the travel industry is fighting back with education.
It was 2009 when Deborah Quigley first spotted Somnang. Somnang was a malnourished three year old who was the end result of a prostitution ring in Cambodia. Known as a “karaoke baby” – a nickname for Third World infants born from prostitution rings attached to karaoke bars – Somnang was an all-to-real representation of the consequences of human trafficking.

Quingly was with other members of Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) when she found Somnang. She was there to fight the $32 billion dollar a year industry of sex trafficking – one of the main missions of AAI. While Somnang’s story ended happily – having been taken to a clinic and eventually finding a foster family – not all trafficking tales end this way. It is why AAI is leveraging education to teach flight attendants and travelers alike to spot traffickers and their victims in airports.

“Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found 400 victims and arrested 2,000 traffickers,” according to an article by Refinery 29. “AAI is hoping for legislation to require all U.S. airline staff to be trained so that even more people can be helped.”

Airport

Former American Airlines flight attendant, Nancy Rivard, founded AAI back in 1996. Since then, AAI has raised $60 million in aid, supported 3,000 children for life-changing medical care, and blown the whistle on human trafficking on four flights back in 2009. Of the many board members and organizations supporting AAI, it is American Airlines that leads the charge on the fight against trafficking.

“American Airlines is taking exemplary steps to ensure its flight crews are equipped to notice and respond appropriately when human traffickers attempt to use airlines to traffic women and girls internationally,” said Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey to American Way. “It is my sincere hope that all U.S. airlines will soon follow their example of visionary corporate responsibility in the fight against human trafficking.”

Of course, there is only so much flight attendants can do when overseeing hundreds of passengers on each flight, which is why travelers need to be savvy to the signs of traffickers and their victims. There are clear signs that traffickers and their victims can exhibit when traveling, and if travelers are savvy to them it just may save the life of a woman or child.

Signs of Trafficking and What to Do if you Spot it:

Trafficking Signs

If you believe you’ve spotted evidence of trafficking, please call either the DHS Tip Line listed above or the US National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article