A 21-year-old woman named Lakeyjanay Bailey was traveling on Frontier Airlines with her four-year-old sister Olivia from Denver to Dallas when she was stopped by officers as she deboarded at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Complex reports.
Bailey says employees at the airline had contacted police because they believed there might be a case of human trafficking happening, and she believes it was a case of racial profiling. Bailey is Black and her adopted little sister is white.
As she got off the plane, the authorities at the gate asked if they could speak with her for a moment, then asked Olivia directly if she knew her older sister.
“And what am I to her, and he asked what my mom was to her,” said an emotionally distressed Bailey. “The whole time they were talking with us, people kept staring at us, whispering and stuff.”
Bailey’s mother, a social worker, was also present and the police verified they were traveling together. But Bailey believes that if she’d been white and Olivia were Black, no one would have taken any note of them traveling together on the plane. The family is considering filing a lawsuit against Frontier for racial discrimination.
Frontier Airlines released a statement to Denver7, and said it was actually a passenger who raised concerns about the mixed-race family:
A concern was raised during the flight by another passenger who was sitting near the woman and child and suspected human trafficking. That passenger approached the flight crew with those concerns and subsequently completed a written report during the flight to document her observations. The captain was notified and felt an obligation to report the matter.
Air travel is one of the most common means for human trafficking. Race played no part in the actions of the flight crew who were following established protocols
The protocols the flight crew followed were established, and likely obligatory after the passenger filed a complaint. But it definitely seems like assumptions about race, i.e. racism, have influence over what those protocols are.