The flight attendant knew that something was happening when she saw the disheveled-looking young woman next to a well-dressed older man who spoke for her at all times.
49-year-old flight attendant Shelia Frederick rescued a teenage victim of a human trafficking network after noticing something strange about her, by leaving a note in the plane's bathroom, Independent reported.
The events took place on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The stewardess noticed that the young woman, about 14 or 15 years old, looked quite disheveled and was next to an older and very well dressed man
The contrast between the two was the first thing that caught her attention, and her quick thinking was key to save the teenager. Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa
The second alarming sign came when Frederick tried to talk to the teenager and the man, and she noticed that the girl never looked at her or said a word, and the man answered for her every time a question was asked, showing a defensive attitude.
"[She] looked like she had been through pure hell […] I left a note in one of the bathrooms. She wrote back on the note and said ‘I need help.’”
-Sheila Frederick, NBC News, February 4, 2017.
That was when Frederick informed the pilot of the situation. By the time the plane landed in San Francisco, the agents were already waiting for them at the terminal and arrested the man, since the pilot had contacted them.
As NBC reported, former flight attendant Nancy Rivard believes that the kind of intuition Frederick showed when she effectively read the warning signs and acted accordingly, is key to prevent human trafficking, and can be taught.
Rivard founded Airline Ambassadors with this in mind, and she is trying to train as many airline staff workers in the US on how to detect the signs of someone being a victim of this cruel and criminal practice.
According to the news outlet, only in 2016, 2.000 human traffickers were arrested by US officials, with 400 victims identified.
Rivard organized a training session with about 100 flight attendants who met with former victims of human trafficking that shared their experiences with them with the hope of giving them more tools to spot traffickers on time.
Stewardesses to the rescue
The role of the in-flight crew in commercial planes is way beyond arranging the seating and offering food and drinks to the passengers. They are responsible for the passengers’s safety and have to mediate when conflicts arise.
A heroic flight attendant from Delta Airlines known solely as Tabitha stood up to an employee of the New York State government who was extremely rude to a mother and her baby and threatened Tabitha about making her lose her job.
The stewardess refused to let the woman, named Susan Peirez, mistreat the young mother, and asked her to leave the flight. The mother of the child caught the entire event on video and it became viral.