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Southwest Passenger: “Suspicious Behavior” Results in Human Trafficking Questioning

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - June 11, 2015 : A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during their first week of operations in Puerto Vallarta.

A Southwest Airlines flyer claims she and her child were racially profiled after “suspicious behavior” resulted in their questioning by police over alleged human trafficking.
One Southwest Airlines passenger is accusing the “LUV” carrier of less-than-loving actions, saying she and her daughter were racially profiled and ultimately questioned by police about human trafficking.


CNN reports the incident happened after a short flight from San Jose to Denver on Friday, October 22, 2021.


Flyer Claims “Suspicious Behavior” Included Asking to Sit with Daughter

Mary MacCarthy was flying with her 10-year-old daughter aboard the carrier on an emergency, after discovering her brother suddenly died. The pair flew from Los Angeles and connected in San Jose, where the alleged incident happened.


According to their account, the pair boarded when only middle seats were available in the open seating plan. MacCarthy asked a flight attendant about sitting together, she claims the crew told her she and her daughter would need to sit in separate middle seats.


Because they were traveling together, MacCarthy says she asked other passengers if they would switch seats so she could sit with her daughter. Flyers obliged their request, moving so the two could continue to fly together.


However, upon arrival in Denver, MacCarthy says she and her daughter were stopped by Denver Police and questioned about their travels. According to her account, the officers questioned the two about “suspicious behavior.” While they were allowed to continue without further incident, MacCarthy says it was later revealed the questions were about a report of potential human trafficking.


While flight attendants are trained to identify potential cases of human trafficking aboard flights, MacCarthy says her incident may have been racially motivated. Because she is white and her daughter black, the flyer is accusing the carrier of profiling the pair for wanting to sit together.


“I gave the airline plenty of time to contact me and apologize,” MacCarthy told CNN. “Over two weeks later, I’ve yet to receive anything more than two brief automated responses. The time for an apology is long past.”


MacCarthy is demanding a written apology from the airline, along with a refund of their tickets and “additional compensation.” While she has retained an attorney, no lawsuits have been filed.


In a statement to CNN, the carrier said they are “conducting a review of the situation internally,” and will address the concerns directly with MacCarthy.


Accusations Marks Latest Personnel Concerns Inside Southwest

The accusations of racial profiling are the latest incident in a troubling string of accusations within the carrier. After staging an anti-vaccine-mandate protest in front of the headquarters, a pilot was accused of fighting with another employee over wearing a face mask at a California hotel.

Ericka November 17, 2021

I have an adopted child of a different race and I agree with DHTURK. If it didn't upset my schedule... who cares. In fact, I'm happy to help. I'd be glad someone was looking out for my child. People are way too sensitive these days and always looking for some sort of payout.

JackE November 13, 2021

Mom-of-the-Year wants to hit the jackpot by punishing Southwest for trying to protect her daughter.  

AsiaTravel2019 November 10, 2021

This is what happens when companies bombard their employees with SJW training. Now everything is a crime. Hopefully she gets her apology and a big check.

manually November 10, 2021

This is why people keep their heads down and not want to get involved.
Human trafficking is outrageous and should be stopped.  So what if you got questioned? People are trying to stop a crime against humanity. 

dhturk November 10, 2021

If it happened to me, as long as the intrusion was minimal, polite, and the process didn't upset my schedule, I'd let it go. Catching traffickers is a higher priority to me.
As a retired senior ranking military member, I've been stopped quite a few times for "extra" security checks (typically in the gate area). No harm, no foul.