Fight & Flight: How Delta is Combating Trafficking



Human trafficking is rife in the travel industry, with airports serving as common hubs for the transport of people for exploitation. Between 2011 and 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received reports of 269 cases of human trafficking which referenced intersections with airlines or airports. Within the last seven years, Delta Airlines has taken action, realizing the role that airlines can play in the fight to end human trafficking.

Meg Taylor, Delta’s Associate General Council, said in a Human Trafficking Awareness Day video, “Human Trafficking occurs everywhere: it’s where we live, it’s where we fly, it’s in every corner of the world. And for that reason, it’s imperative that we all get involved.”

Since becoming the first airline to sign the Code of Conduct outlined by End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking in 2011, Delta has proactively taken measures to eradicate trafficking. In 2012, they were one of the 12 founding companies of the Global Business Coalition against Human Trafficking.


In 2013, Delta took two big steps: (1) they implemented the Blue Lightning computer-based training program to help frontline employees identify and report potential cases of human trafficking and adopted the Human Rights Abuses policy, which states zero tolerance for participating and engaging in activities that enable or further human trafficking.

The next year, as part of their supplier code of conduct, Delta called for its business partners to refrain from participating in human trafficking for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In 2015, Delta offered training with Out of Darkness, an anti-trafficking ministry of the Atlanta Dream Center, to engage employees who want to actively help and assist human trafficking victims. Even though Delta is a global company, they still find it important to support local anti-trafficking efforts in their headquarter city of Atlanta, Georgia.


Two years ago, Delta launched their cross-divisional human trafficking advisory council, which developed a plan to expand its support of human trafficking preventions, and trained 30,000 employees to detect human trafficking. Just last year, Delta called for customers to #GetOnBoard by donating miles to bring victims to safety. Since implementing that program, Delta passengers’ donations to Polaris have helped to fly 56 victims back to their families.

So far, Delta has trained over 50,000 employees to be identifiers and reporters of human trafficking. The training includes situational awareness exercises, where flight attendants work together during a mock flight to spot warning signs. In this exercise, flight attendants notice a passenger’s peculiar or aggressive behavior, and proceed to report it to the captain to begin the airline’s human trafficking investigation process. Delta aims to train the rest of its 80,000 member workforce within the next 12-months.

The company leverages partnerships in the anti-trafficking realm with leaders like Polaris, and last year they gave a $1 million donation in support of the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“We recognize Delta’s responsibilities as one of the world’s largest transportation companies extend beyond running a safe operation. That’s why we have developed programs and made serious commitments to combat human trafficking, including training our employees and giving them the resources needed to identify and report all potential cases of human trafficking,” CEO Ed Bastian said in 2016, when he first became the airline’s Chief Executive Officer.


Delta’s current anti-trafficking efforts consist of supporting legislation, training employees, volunteering locally, engaging customers and utilizing strategic partnerships to end trafficking. Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service said, “This cause cuts close to the heart of our company, as victims may be transported through air travel systems every day.”

Delta’s anti-slavery approach starts at the corporate level and makes its way through every division of the company. Bastian continuously called on the airline’s employees and customers to #GetOnBoard. He said, “This is not a comfortable or easy topic, and it’s one that many companies would rather not address…For us, combating human trafficking is more than just a cause, it is a [moral] obligation as citizens of the world.”

How encouraging is it to see a big company taking strides to end human trafficking, leading other airlines to follow suit! We talk a lot about using every dollar as a vote against human trafficking - turns out we can even use the money we spend on air travel to be a part of the solution. Before your next flight, read up on how to recognize signs of trafficking at airports so you can be equipped to help.

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About the Author

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Rae Rohm is an avid baker, an enthusiastic storyteller, and a thoughtful writer who hails from Delaware. She is a graduate of Biola University, where she studied journalism. When she is not teaching people about the glories of her home state, she can be found enjoying nature with her sweet but mischievous puppy, singing along to music while running on the treadmill, and making gifts for her family and friends. Rae loves using her skills and talents to bring all people -  past and present, near and far - into fellowship with one another.