Brian Smith, who was traveling with his adopted daughter, says that the carrier’s staff need better training in order to avoid similar incidents in the future.
On Wednesday, Brian Smith and his 16-year-old daughter, who was adopted by Smith and his wife from China, were stopped by officers at the gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). “The one officer starts walking with me and I just think, it’s just a random interview,” he said. However, Smith was then told that, “they just mentioned that the flight attendant had some concerns with the passenger that I was with.”
It eventually emerged that staff were concerned that Smith’s adopted daughter might have been a victim of human trafficking.
He queried the standards at the carrier, asking, “Are people properly trained, you know, at Southwest … will I be profiled because I have an Asian daughter?”.
Smith’s wife Renee was also on the flight and has also raised her concerns about the incident. “If they’re making mistakes, then they could do a better job. When profiling takes place, they’re missing real victims because they’re focusing on people who aren’t victims,” she said. Renee Smith was traveling with the couple’s son, neither of whom were questioned upon arrival.
Mr. Smith said that, with the proper kind of training, this kind of incident could have been avoided.
In an official statement issued by the airline to the outlet, the carrier said, “We extend a heartfelt apology to the family who flies often with us. Following conversations with authorities on the ground after the flight, we’re continuing our conversation with the family and with our employees whose vigilance is aimed at aiding law enforcement in successfully stopping a growing number of trafficking situations.”
“Our flight attendants undergo training to recognize expert-identified, common behavioral indicators of such situations. A look at Southwest’s workforce and the hundreds of thousands of customers we carry everyday highlights a celebration of diversity that’s at the heart of Southwest’s every success,” it added.