Road warriors like myself often come into and out of airports on autopilot. We are so numbed to the constant barrage of travel related nightmares like delays and crowds and TSA that we forget to be observant.
What if I told you that you could change lives in the course of your work day by staying alert and reporting what you see. There are many warning signs that you can be aware of and here are the top 5.
1 – Appearance
The person is poorly dressed for the destination or has no luggage or a shopping bag for luggage. For example, you’re on a flight from LAX to LGA in January and the traveler has no coat and is dressed is a summer dress or shorts.
They may also especially in the case of minors look malnourished or be dressed in a provocative outfit.
They may have tattoos branding them in very conspicuous places like back of neck, face, across the chest or throat, it may be a barcode, initials, the word “Daddy” or the name of a person. If I see these I tend to ask the significance of the tattoo. Usually starting the conversation with a compliment about the Ink. If they can’t tell you or look horrified, or the story sounds rehearsed please report this ASAP.
2 – Actions
The person seems confused about the destination and is not allowed to answer for themselves when asked a question. I’m not talking about the overbearing control freak wife who’s holding passports and herding her family through the airport, I’m talking about a person who is in control through fear, ie those around that person (could be a male or female leader) seem terrified or don’t seem to want to be with that leader. Regular banter between travel companions is not evident, and it does not look like a lover spat.
Inability to purchase or make decisions on meals, drinks or other simple daily decisions. For example, the victim is sat in a chair and the trafficker brings them food or drinks with no discussion about preferences.
3 – Lack of tech.
The victims are not communicative or interested in the surroundings, yes, my fellow road warriors this describes us too, but we hide in our phones or laptops, but these folks likely don’t have any tech on them, if they do it’s monitored. If you try to start up a conversation they resist or the trafficker starts answering for them. In today’s world, the vast majority of travelers have a phone, tablet or laptop. The absence of these devices going through TSA is a red flag if any of the other points are also observed. This is especially true for ages 8-30. No tech is a red flag, but coupled with any of the other points it’s a sure sign. Please call it in to our hotline
1-833-4NEWDAY or tell a TSA officer, airport security or an airline rep. If you see a trafficker using tech to view porn, or be abusive or control someone please report that too.
4 – Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication
Is anyone engaged in a conversation, do the folks seem like they are together, that they like each other, work together etc. The best way to be sure is to strike up a random conversation always starting with a compliment to the victim about his/her eyes, hair, shoes, luggage etc. If a compliment is not possible, then a question like do you know what the weather will be like in (flight destination). Does the communication seem forces or scripted? Do they seem coached to give certain answers, do they look to someone for approval of the answers, do they sound tentative?
5 – Fear
DO they seem afraid? They can't move freely in an airport or on a plane, or they are being controlled, closely watched or followed. This is worth reporting immediately to a TSA agent, flight attendant or similar. Please do not accuse anyone, confront anyone or in any way put yourself in harm’s way. If you are speaking to the victim make it casual and if you believe there is a problem REPORT it don’t become involved in it.
The bottom line fellow road warriors, now that you know the signs, if you see something, say something. Our hotline number is Tollfree 1-833-4NEWDAY