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FBI finds no evidence of human trafficking on HAL flight to HNL

Hawaiian Airlines logo
Source: Hawaii Airlines blog

Honolulu, HAWAII — Hawaiian Airlines in its blog poast has updated a suspicion that there was a human trafficking case on a flight to Honolulu.

The FBI says no crime actually occurred.

Samoa News reported late Friday afternoon that the airline said its attendants saw an older Asian man boarding a flight out of Los Angeles with three young girls and thought something seemed suspicious.

They alerted authorities to the situation.

FBI agents responded to investigate and found no evidence of criminal activity.

The FBI says the man was authorized to take the girls on vacation.

Unfortunately, the airline distributed the story to members of the media.

An airline spokesperson praised the flight attendants for being alert and observant. And the FBI released a similar statement.

Honolulu sheriffs questioned the passengers upon arrival and referred the case to the FBI as suspected human trafficking. While the case was dismissed, law enforcement praised the crew's actions.

"We do appreciate Hawaiian Airlines employees for speaking out and saying something and bringing it to our attention," said Jason K. White, spokesman for the Honolulu FBI field office. "We encourage people to remember that if something seems strange or doesn't feel right most times something is wrong, however, that was not the case in this incident."

 “The astute awareness of the flight attendants – noticing some key anomalies that heightened their attention to that situation – led them to quickly alert the captain who made the appropriate notification to our Systems Operations Control Center and airport security,” said Thomas Aiu, Hawaiian’s director of corporate security.

Human trafficking is estimated to be the world’s second most profitable transnational crime, according to the United Nations’ aviation agency. The International Labour Organization estimates 40 million people are trapped in some form of modern slavery such as forced labor or marriage, with women and girls accounting for 71 percent of victims.

“All of us are aware that Hawaiian is famous for hospitality, and deservedly so,” says Sunderland. “But we always say, ‘if you see something, say something,’ and that's exactly what happened here… I am grateful for our training, and for the quick responses of all involved – in flight and on the ground – during very busy phases of our flight.”

Hirata offers some advice for anyone who may find themselves in similar situations, possibly doubting their instincts:

“Always be observant of passengers as they board… Also, be sure to discuss any strange situations with other crew members and enlist the help of those willing to get involved. Trust your gut and prior experience. Report the situation without alarming or confronting the passengers in a suspicious manner.”