1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001


Resolution to help prevent human trafficking
one more reason to thank America's flight attendants

(released Monday, February 11, 2013)

I often tell people that we have the best aviation system in the world. And our excellent safety record wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the flight attendants who--in addition to their many responsibilities--help keep air passengers safe.

So it was a pleasure to be able to thank them in person this morning at a meeting of the Association of Flight Attendants in Chicago.


One way the Obama Administration has thanked our flight attendants is by opening up the Family and Medical Leave Act to flight crews. For 20 years, flight attendants and pilots have been unable to take advantage of the benefits this historic law provides.


But last week, the Department of Labor announced a final rule to help flight crew employees tend to their obligations—both to their loved ones and to themselves—without worrying about losing their jobs or their benefits.

This is a long-overdue common-sense protection that is good for flight crew employees and their families. And that makes it good for the flying public whose safety our flight attendants help ensure every day.

One area where flight attendants have made a critical safety difference is with our most vulnerable passengers, infants and children. The safest place for children under the age of two when they ride on an airplane is in an approved child safety seat, and our Federal Aviation Administration has worked hard for the past few years to spread that important message to parents.

We have had terrific support in this safety campaign from America's flight attendants.

Another critical area where flight attendants can make an impact is in the prevention of human trafficking. Flight crews are skilled observers and well-positioned in the cabin; they can be frontline allies in this fight.

Earlier today, the Association passed a resolution to actively educate flight attendants on ways to end human trafficking and to seek the addition of industry-wide training that "helps identify, report, and stop human trafficking in its tracks."

President Obama has made ending human trafficking a priority for his Administration, and this morning I thanked America's flight attendants for joining us in this effort.

Girl Behind Bars

Transportation leaders are championing this effort for good reason. Human trafficking --holding men, women, and children against their will and trafficking them into forced labor and prostitution-- is modern-day slavery. Those of us who work in transportation are on the front lines, and we have a duty to watch for the signs of human trafficking and to report suspicious activity to the authorities. So we have trained nearly all 55,000 DOT personnel on how to recognize these signs and partnered with Amtrak to train its 20,000 employees .

We're also working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop training for airline crews on how to discreetly notify authorities when they see human trafficking onboard our planes.

Flight attendants can help by learning the basic indicators of human trafficking, and--if they see something--taking action to report it. It can be as simple as recognizing that a child doesn’t know the people she is traveling with and contacting the authorities with the tip.

Our flight attendants do so much to help keep us safe; working together to prevent human trafficking is one more way they're protecting passengers in our nation's skies.