A couple from New York City was recently escorted off a flight under suspicion of sex trafficking.
When Kathleen Chan and Jay Serrano boarded a flight from Miami to New York City, they didn’t expect to be escorted off the plane by police once it landed. Twenty minutes after touching ground, three armed Port Authority officers boarded the plane and requested Chan come with them.
“I asked him, ‘Can you tell me what this is about?’” Chan told Pix11. “He told me the flight crew had alerted the police that it was a possible case of sex trafficking. They thought I had not spoken any English, and that I was taking directions from Jay during the flight.”
Serrano was eventually brought outside with Chan, eliciting stares from other travelers.
“To hear someone think I’m selling her, or she’s a hooker, that pissed me off,” Serrano told Pix11.
What were the reasons the couple was singled out? When Serrano went to the bathroom (because he was sick, but the crew didn’t know that), Chan walked with him there and waited for him outside the lavatory. And at one point in the flight, Serrano asked for half a cup of orange juice. He got a full cup instead and gave some to Chan, who asked for a stirrer.
Michelle Guelbart, who works with the travel industry for the anti-trafficking organization ECPAT USA, noted to PIX 11, “You mentioned that when he went to the bathroom, she followed him. One of the indicators for sex trafficking is someone who’s not allowed to move freely through the cabin.”
This is not an isolated incident — in early December, some members of K-Pop band Oh My Girl were detained at LAX due to underage sex worker suspicions — but American Airlines is simply doing their part to try to stop trouble in its tracks.
“At American, the safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority,” Ross Feinstein, the senior manager for corporate communications with American Airlines, said in a statement reported by Pix11. “Out of an abundance of caution, our employees are trained to report any activity that is out of the ordinary.”