A black woman was accused of trafficking her white adoptive sister on a recent Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Dallas Fort Worth resulting in police being called and the woman being briefly detained for questioning.
Lakeyjanay Bailey, 21, was travelling with her 4-year-old adoptive sister, Olivia last Tuesday on what they thought had been a routine and drama-free flight.
But on arrival in Dallas, the pair were met by law enforcement who took them away for questioning in front of the other passengers. “There were two police officers, and they came up to me and said, ‘Is it okay if we talk to you?'” Bailey told ABC’s Denver 7.
Bailey recounted how one of the police officers asked Olivia how she knew her sister and other personal questions about her relationship with other members of her adopted family. “The whole time they were talking with us, people kept staring at us, whispering and stuff,” Bailey said of the experience.
“If the roles were changed and it was a white person walking off the plane with a black person, like a black child, I feel like things would be different,” she continued.
A spokesperson for Dallas Forth Worth police said they had been called to meet the plane by Frontier Airlines to a report of possible human trafficking.
The airline confirmed it made the report following concerns raised by a passenger on the flight.
“A concern was raised during the flight by another passenger who was sitting near the woman and child and suspected human trafficking,” a Frontier Airlines spokesperson explained. “That passenger approached the flight crew with those concerns and subsequently completed a written report during the flight to document her observations.”
“The captain was notified and felt an obligation to report the matter. Air travel is one of the most common means for human trafficking. Race played no part in the actions of the flight crew who were following established protocols”.
The incident comes just weeks after a Delta Air Lines frequent flyer was accused of trafficking his special needs daughter by a flight attendant on a flight from Minneapolis to Houston.
Following the incident, Peter Espinosa wrote an open letter to Delta’s chief executive Ed Bastian which he published on LinkedIn accusing the Atlanta-based airline of racially profiling its customers and disregarding the needs of special needs passengers following the disturbing incident.
A 2017 report by the Trafficking Resource Centre identified over 8,700 possible cases of human trafficking in the United States alone – although the real figure could be much higher.
In February 2017, Alaska Airlines flight attendant, Shelia Fedrick helped rescue a human trafficking victim on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco. Fedrick became suspicious of an older, well-dressed man travelling with a young teenage girl who “looked like she had been through pure hell.”
Sheila left a note in the bathroom for the victim – when the young girl wrote a reply asking for help, Fedrick was able to get in touch with law enforcement in San Francisco who were waiting to arrest the perpetrator when the flight landed.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.