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United, based on pax complaint, calls police on false report of child trafficking

United, based on pax complaint, calls police on false report of child trafficking

Old Apr 19, 2017, 9:14 am
  #91  
 
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Originally Posted by fly18725
I think it is up to LEO to take the information, perform due diligence and then ask questions. In-flight, when there is no ability for citizens to contact LEO, I think airlines have a duty to pass suspicions along. They can certainly include their own judgement in the communication to LEO, but it would be irresponsible to disregard suspicions or take action in-flight.
Suspicion, in this case, being that a light skinned child was traveling with a darker skinned man. How so unnatural! Bad hombre alert. Call the cops!

Originally Posted by Productivity
Again, you want flight attendants to play amateur detective in flight. Also that's a hell of a responsibility to put onto the flight attendant - what if they make a wrong decision and then read about it in the news the next day that a child was missing. If that was me the guilt would be crushing.

It is extremely easy to sit from the safety of your computer and say they should have known better, but I would always prefer staff to feel empowered to call something in and let professionals deal with it than not say something and risk the worst case.

To put that into my own context, three times I've shut down work in my job because I felt there may be something unsafe. The first two times, I was wrong, everything was ok and I unnecessarily shut down work, costing time and money. My employer said both times, that's ok, we would prefer caution over risk.

The third time I was right, something was unsafe and if it had gone ahead people could have been killed. I bet if I hadn't had the reinforcement from the previous two examples, I would have just kept my mouth shut. I bet all of you looking from the sides would have criticized my decision making the first two times as well. But when things that matter are on the line, caution is not a bad thing.
Making a wrong decision that costs time and money is not the same as making a decision that costs a man his dignity and his family put through emotional torture. What a ridiculous equivalence!

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 19, 2017 at 11:39 am Reason: Discuss the issues, not the poster
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 9:55 am
  #92  
 
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Originally Posted by knit-in
Making a wrong decision that costs time and money is not the same as making a decision that costs a man his dignity and his family put through emotional torture. What a ridiculous equivalence!
[Y]ou think this is losing dignity and emotional torture? He was led off a plane, then questioned, apparently aggressively.

My point was never that there is a direct equivalency, but that if you undermine people for making cautious decisions when they turn out to be wrong, people will stop saying something unless they have rock solid evidence. That is not a good outcome.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 19, 2017 at 11:41 am Reason: Quote updated to reflect Moderator edit;deleted repsonse to deleted content
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 10:14 am
  #93  
 
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Originally Posted by Productivity
[Y]ou think this is losing dignity and emotional torture? He was led off a plane, then questioned, apparently aggressively.

My point was never that there is a direct equivalency, but that if you undermine people for making cautious decisions when they turn out to be wrong, people will stop saying something unless they have rock solid evidence. That is not a good outcome.
First off, thanks for answering yourself for me (bolding mine in your quote above). Perhaps your idea of what amounts to human dignity and the loss of it is relative, but for me, any level of baseless violation perpetuated upon a person, in this case based on the color of his skin is 100% unjustifiable! The man was told he was trafficking his daughter! My God, man!

Second, I hope that when you made the "cautious" decision that lost you time and money, but not your job, you didn't just do it because some drunk with even less expertise than you put their suspicion in your mind.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 19, 2017 at 11:43 am Reason: Quote updated to reflect Moderator edit;deleted repsonse to deleted content
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 10:27 am
  #94  
 
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What you bolder had nothing to do with United, so again, what should United have done? Written off a report, because the person has had some alcohol? I have a drink on planes, sometimes a few. Doesn't mean I'm not observant. Written off the report because it was probably based in racism? Sadly racists can be correct.

I would prefer 100 false positives if it caught one extra child trafficker. Maybe you think that's a bad deal, based on your view of human dignity but I think those trafficked children have a dignity that is violated as well.

I've also seen what a culture of slapping down people who speak up without concrete evidence does (it was a job site with five deaths). Around these sort of issues, people should be encouraged to speak up and report, even if it's on the sketchiest, drunken racist testimony. Because one day they may be right.

Now if you want to argue about the questioning, that's nothing to do with United. United handed the report on properly, if law enforcement can't behave reasonably that's really not Uniteds fault and you should complain about them seperately.
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 10:29 am
  #95  
 
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Originally Posted by YadiMolina
The flight attendant(s) had the logical choice to discount the accusation from the passenger. From their training and their experience (hopefully), observing unlimited examples of a single parent with a child, on years of international flights, they should understand the documentation and inspections performed on both ends of the flight.

But logic usually loses to hysteria. (e.g., the see something say something links above.)
Where is the racist busy-body who set off the chain of events in the first place? Sorry, there is no other explanation (or evidence) than the woman had a racial bias. She shouldn't be excused and allowed to walk away, her "mistake" should have been pointed out to her in front of all concerned. If this incident had happened to me, I'd want to know who it was and I'd want to take her to court. It's outrageous.
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by Productivity
What you bolder had nothing to do with United, so again, what should United have done? Written off a report, because the person has had some alcohol? I have a drink on planes, sometimes a few. Doesn't mean I'm not observant. Written off the report because it was probably based in racism? Sadly racists can be correct.

I would prefer 100 false positives if it caught one extra child trafficker. Maybe you think that's a bad deal, based on your view of human dignity but I think those trafficked children have a dignity that is violated as well.

I've also seen what a culture of slapping down people who speak up without concrete evidence does (it was a job site with five deaths). Around these sort of issues, people should be encouraged to speak up and report, even if it's on the sketchiest, drunken racist testimony. Because one day they may be right.

Now if you want to argue about the questioning, that's nothing to do with United. United handed the report on properly, if law enforcement can't behave reasonably that's really not Uniteds fault and you should complain about them seperately.
What I bolded was quoted from you, so if there was any distraction from United's actions it was initiated by you.

And, "sadly racists can be correct?"??! NOT IF YOU ARE AT THE RECEIVING END! You don't look at your broken watch and believe the time, just because it is right twice a day! It has stopped. It tells that same time all the time. Racists are never right. Their intellectual "clock" stalled at whatever prejudice they inherited or created in themselves. They will always perceive people based on their racist attitude! Not only it is not right, it is not to be tolerated!

And it is absolutely United's fault. Where's the training if you think the airline crews are in the trenches of human trafficking. Putting people on the front line is to put them in the crossfire without giving them any level of skill or expertise. They share the blame. If this is proper procedure they deserve every bit of criticism!

Last edited by Pat89339; Apr 19, 2017 at 11:21 am Reason: OT comment removed
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 11:08 am
  #97  
 
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Originally Posted by skipmnyc
Where is the racist busy-body who set off the chain of events in the first place? Sorry, there is no other explanation (or evidence) than the woman had a racial bias. She shouldn't be excused and allowed to walk away, her "mistake" should have been pointed out to her in front of all concerned. If this incident had happened to me, I'd want to know who it was and I'd want to take her to court. It's outrageous.
Out and about "being vigilant", being potentially right some day, according to one esteemed member of this FT community.

Unfortunately, so many of these racists are allowed to walk away feeling great about themselves. If this were anyone with any dignity, who truly felt a child was in danger, she would come forward and apologize. But no, this is exactly the result she was hoping for and is probably watching it all go down with glee.

I hope I am wrong and that she will yet come up and bear the blame she deserves.
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 11:08 am
  #98  
 
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Racism is always wrong.

Not going to continue this discussion beyond saying human trafficking is a heinous crime that shouldn't be brushed off and it's easy to critique this with hindsight.

Last edited by Productivity; Apr 19, 2017 at 11:15 am
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 11:44 am
  #99  
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Originally Posted by bocastephen
If you read the article, this was not an inconvenience but a verbal assault by US authorities that traumatized an innocent daughter. No excuse for this, and I don't buy the "better safe than sorry" routine - not for this, not for anything.

If a trafficker slips through, they slip through - sorry about that. Their luck will run out eventually and justice will be served - justice is not to be served by an obnoxious, over-eager soccer Mom sticking her nose where it doesn't belong, and crew members yet again overstepping their authority.

It's interesting how some of us are left to fend for ourselves when an obviously intoxicated drunkard is making our flight miserable and becoming a nuisance and the crew can only giggle with delight and pour more drinks, but the moment someone speaks Arabic, looks a little off, or is suspecting of something by a busy-body in the next seat, they turn into little FBI agents

Hopefully part of Oscar's new approach to be announced by April 30th, according to the email I received tonight, will in part instruct crew members to stop being such royal pains in the butt with things that are none of their business and start focusing on things that are.
Joining this discussion late.

I don't fault the UA crew. They are just doing what the FAA urges them to do, and the FAA is reacting to direction from Congress.

I fault the ridiculous Kabuki Theatre mindset we have adopted at the national level post-9/11. Add to this the inane "see something say something" campaign, and we have a perfect storm of untrained civilians reporting suspected misconduct that almost always has no basis in fact.

Years ago one of my friends and his wife adopted two babies of a different because they were unable to have kids of their own. I was talking to him late last year about the cultural tendencies we have sadly adopted, and he remarked that he was glad his daughters were now adults, given the way we now so easily assume the worst about someone simply because they don't fit a preconceived notion of what a father and daughter ought to look like.

If you aren't sure that someone is a human trafficker, I strongly recommend keeping your concerns to yourself. Don't fall for the "better to inconvenience one hundred than let one go free" tripe.
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Old Apr 19, 2017, 11:54 am
  #100  
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Moderator Note

This topic touches a number of important and difficult issues -- human trafficking, stereotyping, racial profiling, ... These are important societal issues BUT far out of the scope of the UA forum and this forum is not equipped to handle those discussion, hence FT has other forums better for these societal issues.

We discuss UA and our travel experiences on UA in this forum and wider societal issues are discussed elsewhere. Let's return to the forum's topic areas and this particular incident..

And let's do this by discussing the forum related topics / issues and not what we think of the other posters.

WineCountryUA
UA coModerator

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm Reason: clarification
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Old Apr 20, 2017, 1:52 pm
  #101  
 
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It's too bad the flight attendant couldn't have informed the passenger (who questioned the relationship) about the new anti-trafficking policies. I myself was unaware that airports and airlines have (thankfully) taken these steps.
I was reminded of a study which surprised me. It seems that children of both sexes tend to facially resemble their fathers more than their mothers. The author hypothesized that it was evolution drove this trait as men are more likely to invest in children they think are theirs... hummm. If true, that would explain why a person might raise their eyebrows when they see a male caretaker that doesn't resemble the child. Skin color wasn't addressed in the study, just facial similarity. Maybe the suspicious passenger wasn't racist at all.
I hope readers will not refrain from questioning what seems odd to them. People should trust their gut, but stay polite. Traveling is stressful, traveling with children is even more stressful, and stressed people can become unpleasant.
After some reflection, I think it's possible to make polite inquiry of a child that doesn't resemble a male caretaker. Use a neutral statement about the child, such as a remark about clothing or hair color, or even praising behavior. I like to use "That's a fun age" (with a smile) when striking up a conversation with parents. Then follow up by saying something like: "Is she your daughter?" or "I guess she favors her mom." If the disparity is huge, it won't be the first time he's been asked. Most men will respond positively and proudly about being a dad, an adoptive father, or their wife's good looks. The response will tell you if you should notify authorities or not.
I suspect the authorities weren't as polite as they could have been when questioning the father. It's hard to find people with good judgement and social skills to fill airport security jobs. In any case, I hope the parents can develop a sense of humor about the issue because it's likely to happen frequently if dad really looks a lot different from his daughter. FYI, if this has been the most humiliating experience flying with a child has brought this parent, he's lucky... parenting is not for pussies!

Last edited by A Lyford; Apr 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm Reason: my error
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Old Apr 21, 2017, 12:35 pm
  #102  
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Originally Posted by A Lyford
It's too bad the flight attendant couldn't have informed the passenger (who questioned the relationship) about the new anti-trafficking policies. I myself was unaware that airports and airlines have (thankfully) taken these steps.
I was reminded of a study which surprised me. It seems that children of both sexes tend to facially resemble their fathers more than their mothers. The author hypothesized that it was evolution drove this trait as men are more likely to invest in children they think are theirs... hummm. If true, that would explain why a person might raise their eyebrows when they see a male caretaker that doesn't resemble the child. Skin color wasn't addressed in the study, just facial similarity. Maybe the suspicious passenger wasn't racist at all.
I hope readers will not refrain from questioning what seems odd to them. People should trust their gut, but stay polite. Traveling is stressful, traveling with children is even more stressful, and stressed people can become unpleasant.
After some reflection, I think it's possible to make polite inquiry of a child that doesn't resemble a male caretaker. Use a neutral statement about the child, such as a remark about clothing or hair color, or even praising behavior. I like to use "That's a fun age" (with a smile) when striking up a conversation with parents. Then follow up by saying something like: "Is she your daughter?" or "I guess she favors her mom." If the disparity is huge, it won't be the first time he's been asked. Most men will respond positively and proudly about being a dad, an adoptive father, or their wife's good looks. The response will tell you if you should notify authorities or not.
I suspect the authorities weren't as polite as they could have been when questioning the father. It's hard to find people with good judgement and social skills to fill airport security jobs. In any case, I hope the parents can develop a sense of humor about the issue because it's likely to happen frequently if dad really looks a lot different from his daughter. FYI, if this has been the most humiliating experience flying with a child has brought this parent, he's lucky... parenting is not for pussies!
This post could very well have been written by the passenger who made the false accusation. I'm not saying you did, but you did an excellent job of making excuses for a biased passenger who was too much of a coward to show her face to the authorities.

People are expected to see if there are facial differences in the father and child, total strangers on a plane, and then ask personal, intrusive questions to make a determination? That is absolutely ridiculous.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm Reason: inappropriate comment removed
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Old Apr 24, 2017, 8:30 am
  #103  
 
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Originally Posted by A Lyford
It's too bad the flight attendant couldn't have informed the passenger (who questioned the relationship) about the new anti-trafficking policies. I myself was unaware that airports and airlines have (thankfully) taken these steps.
I was reminded of a study which surprised me. It seems that children of both sexes tend to facially resemble their fathers more than their mothers. The author hypothesized that it was evolution drove this trait as men are more likely to invest in children they think are theirs... hummm. If true, that would explain why a person might raise their eyebrows when they see a male caretaker that doesn't resemble the child. Skin color wasn't addressed in the study, just facial similarity. Maybe the suspicious passenger wasn't racist at all.
I hope readers will not refrain from questioning what seems odd to them. People should trust their gut, but stay polite. Traveling is stressful, traveling with children is even more stressful, and stressed people can become unpleasant.
After some reflection, I think it's possible to make polite inquiry of a child that doesn't resemble a male caretaker. Use a neutral statement about the child, such as a remark about clothing or hair color, or even praising behavior. I like to use "That's a fun age" (with a smile) when striking up a conversation with parents. Then follow up by saying something like: "Is she your daughter?" or "I guess she favors her mom." If the disparity is huge, it won't be the first time he's been asked. Most men will respond positively and proudly about being a dad, an adoptive father, or their wife's good looks. The response will tell you if you should notify authorities or not.
I suspect the authorities weren't as polite as they could have been when questioning the father. It's hard to find people with good judgement and social skills to fill airport security jobs. In any case, I hope the parents can develop a sense of humor about the issue because it's likely to happen frequently if dad really looks a lot different from his daughter. FYI, if this has been the most humiliating experience flying with a child has brought this parent, he's lucky... parenting is not for pussies!
Asking polite questions of a fellow passenger isn't what the drunk, possibly racist passenger did.

I am not sure how credible the study that you have referenced to is either. Since there aren't any details on who the author of this study was it isn't possible to get any further information on them.

What intrigued me most is your opinion that parenting is not for "pussies". Could you perhaps mention a few more humiliating issues that I, as a parent, must be prepared for, than being told that I was suspected of prostituting my child? How low should I prepare my dignity to be taken while wanting to travel from point A to point B?
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Old Apr 24, 2017, 11:43 am
  #104  
 
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Originally Posted by knit-in
What intrigued me most is your opinion that parenting is not for "pussies". Could you perhaps mention a few more humiliating issues that I, as a parent, must be prepared for, than being told that I was suspected of prostituting my child? How low should I prepare my dignity to be taken while wanting to travel from point A to point B?
Perhaps I missed something. Was he accused of prostituting his child or was he asked for documentation of his right to travel internationally with her? There's quite a difference between the two.

As stated in a prior post, I have been asked for documentation that I have consent to travel with my children three different times. At no point was I accused of anything. Obviously I know why they are asking. My children don't resemble me and this is hardly a surprise to me. I'm glad that people are looking out for the welfare of my children and my dignity is 100% in tact.

As far as examples of more humiliating issues while traveling as a parent? Let's see... my son screaming from ear pain and despite my obvious attempts to soothe him, having a man a few rows up stand up and start shouting at me, my daughter throwing up stepping off an elevator in our Berlin hotel with no warning, and realizing that my baby has filled her diaper while taxiing and being something like #17 for takeoff on a Friday evening at JFK, meaning I can't move out of my seat to deal with the issue for over an hour. Those are a few times I've been far more humiliated than being asked for a consent to travel letter. I'm sure I could think of more, but I've tried to block those memories!
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Old Apr 24, 2017, 2:41 pm
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Originally Posted by princeville
Perhaps I missed something. Was he accused of prostituting his child or was he asked for documentation of his right to travel internationally with her? There's quite a difference between the two.

As stated in a prior post, I have been asked for documentation that I have consent to travel with my children three different times. At no point was I accused of anything. Obviously I know why they are asking. My children don't resemble me and this is hardly a surprise to me. I'm glad that people are looking out for the welfare of my children and my dignity is 100% in tact.

As far as examples of more humiliating issues while traveling as a parent? Let's see... my son screaming from ear pain and despite my obvious attempts to soothe him, having a man a few rows up stand up and start shouting at me, my daughter throwing up stepping off an elevator in our Berlin hotel with no warning, and realizing that my baby has filled her diaper while taxiing and being something like #17 for takeoff on a Friday evening at JFK, meaning I can't move out of my seat to deal with the issue for over an hour. Those are a few times I've been far more humiliated than being asked for a consent to travel letter. I'm sure I could think of more, but I've tried to block those memories!
What I understand is that the father was accused for trafficking a child, this one being his own. Children who are victims of trafficking are transported internationally for purposes of exploitation, that may include sexual exploitation.

If you are humiliated while your child is in pain and another passenger is being an ... about it, then as far as I am concerned the humiliation is his, not yours. Your child throwing up with no warning, or you having to wait an hour to clean a poopy diaper is at best embarrassing, not humiliating.
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