Flight attendant Sheila Fedrick knew something was off when she saw a greasy hair teenage girl sitting next to a well-dressed older man aboard an Alaska Airline plane. Fedrick attempted to engage the young girl in conversation, but the man grew defensive. It was then Fedrick knew she was witnessing an an example of human trafficking.
During an interview with NBC News, Fedrick said she took action by leaving a message. “I left a note in one of the bathrooms, She wrote back on the note and said, ‘I need help.’ ” Fedrick notified the capton and when the airplane landed in San Francisco, police were waiting for the man.
Fedrick’s brave actions were highlighted at a workshop to coincide with Super Bowl weekend. About 100 volunteers were on hand to learn how to recognize the signs of human trafficking. Former victims also spoke and instructors taught the volunteers how to engage with victims, as well as the person or persons traveling with the passenger that doesn’t appear to be a guardian, friend or family.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nearly 2,000 individuals for human trafficking, and in 2016 more than 400 victims were identified as having been exploited for labor or sex work.