There’s been a lot of chatter and possibly ill-informed speculation amongst American Airlines flight attendants about the number of unaccompanied minors being up on their US-Mexico flights. There’s been some disagreement over whether this is the result of:
- The federal government deporting children on American Airlines flights (although I don’t think those would be listed as ‘UMs’, or
- Parents proactively sending their children out of the country out of fear they might be captured and held in separation from their families
This is entirely separate from the viral Facebook post about an American Airlines flight attendant seeing 16 migrant children on a flight to Miami.
And there’s now a Dallas-based flight attendant with a piece in the Houston Chronicle on why they’ll refuse to “work flights that separate immigrant kids from families.”
American Airlines shared that,
We have been asked about transporting undocumented children and are aware of the narrative that is circulating online. American, like most U.S. airlines, provides travel to the federal government through our Government Services agreements; however the government does not disclose information about the nature of the flights they take or the passengers who are traveling. We have no way to substantiate the report at this time but would be disappointed to learn that our airline was being used to separate families.
This morning American put out a statement that they have asked the federal government “to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy.”
United also put out a statement — first saying they “have not seen evidence these children have been flown on United aircraft” but also that they “have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents.”
While these requests might be honored the government is simply booking contract fare tickets so I don’t know that they can stop children separated from their families from being transported on their planes. Delta would have the same difficult time doing so. I view these statements as directed towards cabin crew who feel they may be finding themselves accomplices to splitting up families.
It’s not clear what exactly is going on here, other than that anecdotally it seems children are being sent out of the U.S. — by the government, perhaps by parents fearful of what might happen if those children stay — but either way awareness of family separation seems to be driven by the current climate of immigration enforcement.
No airline wants to be caught in the middle of this issue, and doesn’t want to put their employees in the middle of it either.