PACT (formerly ECPAT-USA) partners with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) to administer an e-learning program on human trafficking training for all members of staff of participating hotels and hospitality companies. In October 2022, Brad Schumacher, VP of Strategic Partnerships of Encore, who had completed this training, boarded United Airlines flight UA221, and helped to change a life; based on the knowledge about the indicators of human trafficking that he had acquired. Read his testimony below:
I was boarding an 11pm red eye on my way to attend a conference when I spotted a very confused and scared looking passenger boarding the plane. She was young and extremely anxious when approached by anyone who offered to assist her. After personally trying to communicate in various manners while helping find her seat, there were many signs that made it abundantly clear something was off. After collecting my thoughts for a moment, I knew I had to alert the flight crew. I walked to the cockpit and shared the industry that I worked in and my observations based on training experience.
To no surprise, one of the flight attendants jumped in and said she felt the exact same way. It was at that moment, that things got set into motion. The flight was immediately delayed and United Airlines started to work through their processes. After a while of conversing, they brought a team on and removed the passenger. I anxiously waited to see if she would return. She did not.
After another 30 min or so, they closed the cabin door and we were on our way.
Shortly after we were airborne, the flight attendant summoned me to the front and updated me on the outcome. It was confirmed the woman was being trafficked! Once they were able to speak to her she broke down and admitted everything. Words cannot describe how I felt in that moment.
A big reminder to everyone in the travel/hospitality industry that this stuff is real and happening every day right in front of our staff. If you see something PLEASE say something.