Crew News

Flight Attendants On Flights With Separated Children Speak Out

Flight Attendants On Flights With Separated Children Speak Out

Update 6/20/18 4:32PM EST PM EST: American Airlines has issued the following announcement: 

“The family separation process that has been widely publicized is not at all aligned with the values of American Airlines — we bring families together, not apart. American, like many U.S. airlines, provides travel to the federal government through contracts; however, the government does not disclose information about the nature of the flights it takes or the passengers who are traveling. While we have carried refugees for non-profits and the government, many of whom are being reunited with family or friends, we have no knowledge that the federal government has used American to transport children who have been separated from their parents due to the recent immigration policy, but we would be extremely disappointed to learn that is the case. “We have therefore requested the federal government to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy. We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it. We have every expectation the government will comply with our request and we thank them for doing so.”

And United Airlines:

CEO Oscar Munoz, in a statement, said the United Airlines’ research has not found evidence that any separated migrant children have been flown on its planes, but told the government it doesn’t want any part of the program. “Based on our serious concerns about this policy and how it’s in deep conflict with our company’s values, we have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents,” said Munoz. “Our company’s shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. This policy and its impact on thousands of children is in deep conflict with that mission and we want no part of it.”

and Frontier Airlines: 

“Frontier prides itself on being a family airline and we will not knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families. At this time, we are not aware if Frontier has been used for this purpose.”

Delta has also stated it will not participate in carrying out the Trump policy.

and from the Association of Flight Attendants: 

“”We applaud the statements. We expect this issue could continue to escalate and tensions rise when passengers or crew experience even the appearance onboard of children separated from their families. This can become a safety and security issue, which makes it all the more important that airlines provide as much information as possible to crews in order to ensure a safe working environment for Flight Attendants and passengers.”


Original Story: 

Flight attendants are speaking up and sharing their heart-wrenching personal experiences of transporting children who’ve been separated from their parents at the border as a result of new policy recently put into place by the Trump Administration. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has also voiced concern as to how this policy is negatively affecting flight attendants as they perform their duties.

Airlines are now being faced with one of the most sensitive moral issues to test their internal policies and public relations in years.


Flight attendants seek answers from airline leadership

Airline employees are now being faced with making a decision to become “complicit” in what they believe to be acts of cruelty or to just say no.

Here’s a message to American Airlines’ management from a flight attendant: 

“Recently on a flight from Dallas to Miami, I had the displeasure of transporting eight young boys, estimated between the ages nine to fifteen, dressed in gray sweatsuits along with their escort – a cold hearted woman who scowled at our attempts to communicate with the frightened children. Of course they spoke no English, and my Spanish is limited, but we got the job done.

Their situation weighed on me the entire flight, playing multiple scenarios in my head, and it broke my heart. Knowing that I was transporting innocent children to their detention and possible deportation goes against every moral fiber in my body. To me, it felt like “justified” human trafficking, and indeed was one of the aformentioned scenarios. These children have committed no crime, nor have their family members by seeking a better life away from a troublesome and often dangerous lives in their homeland.

In the short time since, I have read multiple accounts from other crews that were similar in nature, if not worse than my own experience. While I know this is a sensitive subject, American Airlines’ values and emphasis on diversity give us an enormous platform on which to stand against this cruel, abhorrent, and abusive policy.

American Airlines is not a state-owned carrier, nor an extension of the United States government, which operates its own fleet of aircraft designated for this specific purpose. Commercial airlines and their
crews bare no responsibility to assist the current administration’s agenda, particularly when it goes against ones moral standing.

American Airlines has lent it’s voice to many causes, and could continue to do so if the company were to publicly denounce this policy of separating families by refusing transport, or providing advanced notice of ICE transportation as we do with adult inmates, and showing leniency to crew members who feel uncomfortable participating in flights where ICE officials/escorts and detainees are on board. I believe we could all do our jobs pridefully, while simultaneously sending the Trump administration and our lawmakers a message to do their jobs: Protect our sovereignty without forgetting what makes our nation the land of opportunity it is supposed to be, and without causing irreparable harm in the process.

Respectfully, I implore American Airlines to stand on the right side of history against the inhumane internment of children, and allow our employees to opt out of uncomfortable situations involving the transportation of minor detainees.” 

Have you been a passenger or crewmember on a flight with children being transported as a result of this separation policy? We want to know your story. Contact us





Crew News

Gailen David is co-host of the nationally syndicated travel talk show, "The Jet Set" with over 1.8M weekly viewers in over 200 television markets in 12 countries. A former flight attendant, he leads a global discussion about "Jetiquette", the rules or code of civilized travel. Gailen is a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN and USA Today on topics related to the airline travel experience and of course, Jetiquette. Visit Gailen's website

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