SEATTLE — An Alaska Airlines flight attendant’s instincts and quick thinking helped save a teenage girl from human trafficking in 2011, according to WTSP.
Flight attendant Shelia Frederick, 49, first thought something was off during a flight from Seattle to San Francisco when she noticed a teenage girl with greasy blond hair. The teen “looked like she had been through pure hell,” Frederick said.
The girl, who she thought was about 14 years old, was traveling with an older, well-dressed man.
Feeling uneasy about the situation, the 10-year flight veteran approached the duo and tried to strike up a conversation. When she did, the man became defensive.
That’s when Frederick told the girl under her breath to go to the bathroom, according to WTSP, where she had posted a note to the mirror.
“She wrote back on the note that she needed help,” Frederick told WTSP.
Frederick then notified the pilot and police were waiting in the terminal when they landed.
The story is just one of many being highlighted by Airline Ambassadors International, an organization focused on training attendants to spot signs of human trafficking, NBC News reports.
“The front line employees are not being trained” by their airlines, said Nancy Rivard, president of the organization. “We’re funding this from our own pocketbooks.”
Rivard and several of her team flew to Houston before the Super Bowl to hold a two-day training session for airline employees on how to recognize human trafficking.
Human trafficking jumped 35.7 percent in the United States in 2016, according to a new report from the National Human Trafficking Hotline.