An Alaska Airlines flight attendant’s instincts and quick thinking helped save a teenage victim from human trafficking on a plane headed to San Francisco in 2011, according to a new report from television station WTSP in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
Flight attendant Shelia Frederick, 49, first thought something was off during a flight from Seattle when she noticed a teenage girl with greasy blonde hair. The teen “looked like she had been through pure hell,” Frederick said in an interview with the TV station that aired over the weekend.
The girl, who was about 14 years old, was traveling with an older, well-dressed man, according to Frederick.
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, where the flight attendant had posted a note on the mirror, according to WTSP.
“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 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 members 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.
“If you see something, say something,” Frederick said.