Combating human trafficking, together

Tuesday, July 30, 2019, 10:00 AM

Every day, American Airlines transports thousands of customers around the globe, putting team members — and more frequently, flight attendants — in a unique position to help fight against the practice of human trafficking. After being approached by several flight attendants who wanted to know more about combatting this horrible crime, Flight Service Manager Marsha Calhoun knew she needed to take action. That’s when she came across an initiative by the Arizona Attorney General’s office.

The United Nations recognizes July 30 as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, but this year, the day is also the official launch of the Safeguarding All From Exploitation (SAFE) Action Project. This free training seminar is designed to teach travel industry professionals how to identify, report and prevent human trafficking.

“When I found out there was a day devoted to this important cause, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to kick off this initiative and continue the fight to raise awareness,” said Marsha.

The seminar was set up in collaboration with the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the local American Airlines Professional Women in Aviation (PWA) Employee Business Resource Group. As an officer for PWA and an advisor for the SAFE Action Project, Marsha supported the effort to host the first seminar at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

“Even if team members have five minutes during their break to attend the seminar, those five minutes could help save a life,” said Marsha.

This seminar is one recent example of American’s engagement with like-minded organizations, including local governments, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations, to prevent human trafficking. Through specialized in-person and web-based training, the SAFE Action Project equips hospitality and travel industry professionals with the knowledge and skills to recognize and combat trafficking of humans in their communities.

American has provided initial and recurrent human trafficking awareness training to its flight attendants for several years. And in 2018, the airline signed the End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT)-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct and implemented mandatory training for nearly 60,000 frontline team members. ECPAT-USA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a world where no child is bought, sold or used for sex.

For attendees, the information shared resonated with them because of where they work. Flight Attendant Gwen Anastassatos said, “The more people that are involved and the more the word gets out there, the farther this spreads. This is an important thing because it happens right in front of us every day, we can make a difference.”

Fleet Service Crew Chief Andi Beck agreed and added, “Regardless of what workgroup we are in, we all walk through the airport. If we see something we can say something. We can all do our part.”

Marsha Calhoun, Flight Service Manager

Marsha Calhoun, Flight Service Manager

American Airlines team members participate in a in-person seminar

Through specialized in-person and web-based training, the SAFE Action Project equips hospitality and travel industry professionals with the knowledge and skills to recognize and combat trafficking of humans in their communities.