The important work of flight attendants often goesÂ under-appreciated. After all, passengerÂ interactions with them are often limited to asking them for a pillow or some peanuts.
But, these crew members are so muchÂ more than in-air drink servers, they are also in charge of our safety and sanity should anything go wrong. Just watch "Sully" for a fine example of their heroic endeavors.
But, it's not just their herculean effort during disastersÂ that flight attendants deserve some extra credit for, someÂ flight attendants are going above and beyond the call of duty by becoming in-flight watchdogs helping to combat the ever-growing human trafficking epidemic.
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#Repost @free_the_captives_houston So thankful for these beautiful ladies with @AirlineAmbassadors for training airline personnel on how to identify and report trafficking! #airline #airport #travel #flightattendant #airlines #cabincrew #crewlife #fly #flying #aircraft #instaplane #awareness #support #education #awaken #prevention #airlineambassadors #endit #fighthumantrafficking #stophumantrafficking #endhumantrafficking #freethecaptiveshouston #freethecaptives
These special flight attendants are taking big steps to make sure allÂ flight attendants are ableÂ to recognize the signs of human traffickingÂ and to stop it in its tracks.
It all started whenÂ flight attendants volunteering forÂ Airline Ambassadors International went on aÂ humanitarian aid trip to Cambodia in 2009. There, they learned about the devastating issue of human trafficking and became determined to help.
Under the leadership of their president Nancy Rivard, AAI createdÂ a training program to recognize signs of human trafficking. Since then, they haveÂ provided training sessions to over 4,000 individuals at airports in the U.S.Â and across the globe.
Attendees are encouraged to look for indications that a passenger may be a victim. Trafficked victims are oftenÂ unusually submissiveÂ and accompanied by someone who is far better dressed. TheyÂ may also appearÂ malnourished, avoid eye contact andÂ beÂ watchful to the point of paranoia.
TheÂ training is working. The very same year they committed to begin helping, flight attendantsÂ correctly identified human traffic victims on four flights and have saved countless others since.
Rivard told NBCNewsÂ the flight attendants are trained not to directly confront the trafficker. Once a flight attendant suspectsÂ human trafficking, they must call the pilot and let the proper authorities take it from there.
"We tell people not to try to rescue because you can endanger the victim and yourself," sheÂ said.
There has never been a more important time forÂ Rivard and her team to increase awareness and education, as the problem of human trafficking continues to grow.
UNICEF estimates 21 million people are being traffickedÂ around the worldâforced into prostitution, pornography, sweat-shop work, armed forces and migrant farming.Â An estimated 1.2 million of these victims are children.Â Because most traffickers use commercial flights to cheaply transport victims, the AAI program could have a huge impact.
Knowing this, Rivard and her team are lobbyingÂ Congress to make this type of training mandatory for all airline personnel. In the meantime, they will continue to hold voluntary workshops and trainings in airports.