Delta draws attention to signs of human trafficking

Delta Air Lines has launched a new in-flight video focused on how to spot human trafficking.

The video is part of the airline's broader effort to help fight sexual exploitation and forced labor. Already, the company has trained 56,000 of its employees on signs to watch for on flights or in airports.

The video began airing this month as one of the choices on Delta's in-flight entertainment system and will run through February. The airline is working to raise awareness of human trafficking with the Super Bowl coming to Atlanta.

“It is a global issue,” said Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service Allison Ausband, who oversees flight attendants. “With our reach [with international routes], we have the opportunity to make a difference.”

VIDEO: More on this issue

A 2017 report released at the U.N. estimated that there are nearly 25 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. An Urban Institute study found that 71 percent of the victims trafficked to the United States arrived on a flight.

On Friday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former NFL player Terry Crews and others will host an event at the Delta Flight Museum for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Megan Lundstrom, a human trafficking survivor, will share her experience and talk about "pimp-controlled victims" in air travel. Delta has also offered apprenticeships to human trafficking survivors to help get them back on their feet.

The airline educates its employees on the signs of human trafficking and how to report concerns to the airline’s operations center. The center then refers the information to Polaris, which runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline and is sponsored by Delta.

“There are multiple layers of checks and balances in that process,” Ausband said.

Sometimes, mistakes are made. In 2017, Delta reported a possible case of human trafficking, but the supposed victim turned out to be a Lawrenceville resident flying back from a birthday trip in Cancun.

“We certainly always want to err on the side of safety,” Ausband said. There’s always a chance the airline could be wrong, she said, “but what if we’re right?”

Some of the signs Delta crew members are trained to look for include:

• Adult not in possession of his or her own passport and travel documents

• Passenger with little to no knowledge of destination; stories appear scripted or inconsistent

• Traveling with few personal items

• Clothing inappropriate for climate, or used to conceal signs of abuse

• Travel companion who is verbally or physically abusive, with controlling behavior

• Passenger who is malnourished, overly fearful or displaying anxious behavior or exhaustion

More information is available on the Polaris website:

Source: Delta Air Lines