NYT- Mr. Harris, 55, said that he and two of his children, Truman, 12, and Hendrix, 7, were flying on American Airlines from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Sept. 15 to see the Los Angeles Rams play the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
About 30 minutes before the plane landed, Mr. Harris said, a flight attendant asked his children some questions, including what their names were. Mr. Harris said he had to prompt Hendrix, who is shy and had been woken up early to catch the flight, to respond.
After the plane landed, Mr. Harris said, he and his children were met at the top of the jet bridge by an American Airlines employee and four police officers.
“Apparently, a flight attendant had called ahead with some sort of concern that perhaps my mixed children weren’t my children because they were unresponsive during an interaction with her,” he said…
He said he filled out a complaint form and sent it to American Airlines. When the airline did not respond, he posted the Instagram videos, he said.
Ah, the old HUMAN TRAFFICKING mixup. Happens all the time. You know when you see a couple kids and your heart immediately starts hammering in your chest because you know—you just know—they're on their way to some auction block in Rio de Janeiro? What a terrible feeling.
Or, you know, the other option: they're the children of their dad, who happens to be sitting directly next to them as they quietly and peacefully nap on a commercial flight from Atlanta to San Francisco.
Tough call! Better follow the protocol:
"Excuse me, young man! What's your name? You have precisely five seconds to answer that question before I alert the authorities at our destination that you are a kidnapped child, despite the fact that you're sitting peacefully on an airplane among hundreds of passengers, on a four-hour cross-country flight, directly next to your kidnapper. Sure, you could quietly lean forward and whisper "help" to any number of people. Heck, go ahead and hit that call button and alert your flight attendant! We'll make sure to thwart this active human trafficking operation, for that's the level of service you can expect from American Airlines—America's #1 airline.
What a mixup from American. Gotta wonder what sort of vouchers they're going to give David Ryan Harris by way of apology. Does he fly free for the rest of his life? The guy is a super cool musician with almost 80k followers on Instagram. That should be just enough clout to warrant at least a decade of free flights, no? What's more, he could not have handled this any better. He TRIED to lodge a small complaint via the American customer service portal! And they still didn't respond. Tough look for American. Of course, the story picks up steam and they finally have to respond:
This week, Mr. Harris posted a statement that he said he had received from American Airlines.
The statement said that an investigation had determined that “we and our flight attendant realized that our policies regarding suspected human trafficking were not followed,” and “our flight attendant realizes that their interaction and observations did NOT meet the criteria that human trafficking was taking place.”
Hmm. What exactly is the policy regarding suspected human trafficking? It's probably a "better safe than sorry" policy. But if David Ryan Harris and his sleepy, docile kids are raising alarm bells, I guess you better prep your kids before your next American Flight. Make sure they don't sleep and know their goddamn names in case a heroic flight attendant comes by to quiz them.
OR ELSE [you'll be accused of human trafficking!]