Sheila Fedrick by all accounts should be considered a hero.
Fedrick, 49, a flight attendant working for Alaska Airlines, said she noticed a disheveled girl who looked to be 14-15 years old, with a well dressed man, and something told her the scenario was wrong. So she jumped to action.
Fedrick said she tried to talk to them, but the man became angry and rude.
“I left a note in one of the bathrooms,” Fedrick said. “She wrote back on the note and said ‘I need help.’”
Fedrick says she called the pilot and told him about the passengers, and when the plane landed, police were waiting in the terminal.
And Fedrick was correct, the girl was a victim of sex trafficking, and now more flight attendants are being trained on how to spot them.
Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors, says since 2009 Airline Ambassadors has been working to make sure that when a trafficker flies with a victim, the flight crew is trained to spot and report them.
Rivard said the protocol includes the flight attendant informing the pilot, who then informs the authorities on the ground, who are at the gate when the plane lands.
“We tell people not to try to rescue because you can endanger the victim and yourself,” Rivard said.
“One part of our training, and it’s the difficult part, but once we report it, we’re supposed to let it go,” says Andrea Hobart, 36, an Airline Ambassador trainer and flight attendant with Alaska Airlines. “Even though it’s hard to let it go, you transfer it into the hands of the authorities and they’ll pursue the case.”