Vacationer claims flight attendants mistook her for victim, leading to detention at customs.
A flyer heading back from a Mexican vacation claims she was embarrassed and racially profiled by Delta Air Lines flight attendants who supposedly identified her and a friend as potential human trafficking victims. Stephanie Ung of Atlanta told her story to NBC affiliate WXIA-TV, saying the mix-up led to them “feeling like criminals.”
Ung and her companion were flying home from Cancun aboard Delta when the alleged situation occurred. During the flight, she claims flight attendants noted her as a potential victim, leading the flyer and her friend to be questioned by Customs and Border Protection Officers upon their landing. Ung claims the only reason she was singled out was because of her Asian heritage and wearing a dress.
“I just kept telling them that I wanted to go home for my family Thanksgiving dinner, and that they were making me late, but they just didn’t care,” Ung told WXIA about her experience with customs. “They just laughed.”
Flight attendants are trained specifically to identify potential human trafficking victims based on their behavior and demeanor. FlyerTalk’s expert flight attendants say signs they look for include “disheveled and distressed” women and children traveling with adults, and to report any suspicious activity they see aboard their flights. In a statement, Delta stated the telltale sign in this situation was that the women did not have their passports on hand – a statement which Ung said was incorrect.
Delta went on to apologize to Ung and her companion, saying that they are “troubled by any accusation of discrimination.” Although officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not comment about the situation, they noted anyone who feels they are not treated fairly by officers can ask to speak with a supervisor immediately.
The situation is not the first where flyers have been falsely accused of participating in human trafficking. In April 2017, a United Airlines passenger accused the carrier of unfairly accusing him of trafficking when flying with his daughter.