#eyesopen should be part of every aviation professional’s constant awareness

IATA poster
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IATA Urges #eyesopen in Human Trafficking Campaign

#eyes open poster

IATA and ACI stop Human Trafficking Campaign


Sadly this Organized Crime Business is Growing

Your #eyesopen awareness CAN help interdict these victims


It is hard to conceive that such a heinous practice can persist much less increase, but HUMAN TRAFFICKING has expanded its pernicious impact to 24,900,000 victims—primarily women and children. Consequently, the International Air Transport Association, Airports Council International and other aviation industry partners have launched a human trafficking awareness campaign for January through March, 2018.

[poster from 2016 campaign]

In the past similar initiatives have been sponsored by US Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Association of Flight Attendants (2015), Aero Time (2016), San Francisco International Airport and Britain’s National Crime Agency (2016) and  the State of Florida (2016) [PLEASE NOTE: each of these links are connected to past Journal posts which provide excellent, specific advice for ALL AVIATION PROFESSIONALS, not just flight attendants, but customer service agents, ticket counter staff and anyone at the airports to identify this illegal and immoral business. ]

FL sign

[a sign from a Florida airport]

The IATA and ACI effort carries the twitter handle of #eyesopen. That’s more than a slogan, it’s a reminder that awareness is the best tactic for detecting and reporting suspicious passenger movement.

[aviation professionals start with #eyesopen and ends with reporting to law enforcement officials. 
The couriers are hardened criminals who will take severe physical action to protect their stolen 
human assets. Stopping them is a job for trained police professionals.]

Some may be concerned that this task may detract from his or her safety dutiesActually, under SMS, scanning your working environment reflects one of that discipline’s principal principles—constant consciousness for the details which add to the risk for an aircraft’s operation. For example, as a flight attendant walks down the aisle determining that all of the passengers are properly buckled up and their carry-ons are correctly stowed, your scrutiny of those within your section would easily detect some of these tells of trafficking:

  • Is the person unable to move freely in the plane?
  • Is he or she being controlled, closely watched or followed?
    • People being trafficked into slavery are sometimes guarded in transit, often by the means of controlling their documents and restricting their freedom of movement. The trafficker’s job is to ensure that the victim does not escape or reach out for help.”
  • “…fear and intimidation are amongst the main tools that traffickers use to control people in slavery.
  • Is the person afraid to discuss himself or herself in the presence of others, deferring any attempts at a conversation to someone who appears to be controlling them?
  • Traffickers often prevent victims from interacting with any airport or airline staff because the victim might say something that raises suspicion about their safety and freedom.
  • if they eat ravenously just as if they have not eaten for a long time,
  • an older man or woman who is travelling with unrelated teen(s).
    • particularly if the adult “companion” is conspicuously well-dressed when the passenger is not
  • girls who are inappropriately dressed.
  • children who appear to be under someone else’s control and under surveillance at all times.
  • minors with visible injuries, bruises, marks around wrists/ankles (where restraints were) or scars.
  • children or young women traveling without personal items—no purse, backpack, or bag


Another article on this campaign provided an excellent example of how awareness can save lives:


“At the beginning of 2017, a gripping news story of a quick-acting flight attendant made headlines around the world. 
Shelia Fedrick, an Alaska Airlines crew member, spotted an unkempt and terrified looking young girl sitting next to
 a well-dressed older man on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco. Fedrick followed her instincts and left the girl 
a message on the bathroom mirror, which the victim used to ask for help, leading to her rescue on landing.

However, this isn’t the first time that an air cabin crew member has seen these scenes unfold.

The situation is reminiscent of the tragic testimony of Sandra Fiorini, an international flight attendant 
with American Airlines, who testified in 2010 in front of the Human Rights Commission on Human Trafficking.

Fiorini said that throughout her career, she witnessed many instances of the crime, describing a flurry of 
young girls being trafficked out of Russia on false career promises; an 18-year-old man travelling with a 
newborn baby with nothing more than one bottle and two diapers as luggage; and children of the same age but 
different nationalities accompanied by different adults.

Many airlines and unions are training their employees about these and other points of detection; if your’ s does not, please share these points with your travelling partners. On your next heart-to-heart with your supervisor, you might mention that taking time out to instruct everyone about #eyesopen is a great way for the company to give back to the community.

Unfortunately, within airports, law enforcement officers are focusing on terrorists more and more, for obvious reasons. With their attention being divided, #eyesopen is a good use of your time on and off of airplanes.

As a human being, one is inclined to do more to stop these horrible criminals. Being #eyesopen, on a 24/7/365 basis, is the right thing to do. And help see Traffickers like these two Spaniards ARRESTED.


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