An Arizona father and daughter disembarked from their flight home after visiting grandparents in Florida, only to be met by police officers who wrongfully accused the man of human trafficking.
According to ABC, Brian Smith and his 16-year-old adoptive Chinese daughter, Georgianna, were flying from Florida to Arizona after visiting relatives. They had an uneventful flight home; so when they were greeted by police officers after getting off the plane, they were shocked.
“He said the flight attendant had some concerns about the person you’re with,” Brian told reporters. The father-daughter pair were seated next to each other for the duration of the flight, with Georgianna sleeping most of the way home. Brian stated that the only time he spoke to the flight attendants, it was regarding drinks and snacks; apparently, that was enough to arouse suspicion from the crew, who notified authorities in Arizona.
“I don’t like to accuse anyone of anything,” said Renee Smith, Brian’s wife. “But…if Georgianna was a Caucasian child, I don’t believe this would have happened.”
Brian and Renee are unsure as to what suspicious behavior would have alerted the flight attendants. “She has a communication disorder, so she is more quiet than other children might be in a public space,” Renee said.
While the family recognizes the importance of stopping human trafficking, they’re now concerned about future flights. “We’ve never had an issue but now we’ll always be worried something could happen,” Renee stated.
Southwest Airlines has emailed the following statement to ABC:
“We’ve shared a heartfelt apology with this family who flies often with us. Our Flight Attendants do receive training in recognizing expert-identified, common behavioral indicators of human trafficking. Following conversations with authorities on the ground after the flight, we’re continuing our conversation with the family and with our Employees whose valuable vigilance is aimed at aiding law enforcement in successfully stopping a growing number of trafficking situations. A quick look at both our workforce and the hundreds of thousands of Customers we carry every day highlights a celebration of diversity that’s at the Heart of Southwest’s every success.”
Featured Image via ABC