For most people, flying is a nice experience linked with exciting vacations, but not everybody sees it that way.
Sheila Frederick, 49, spent more than 15 years working as an Alaska Airlines flight attendant. She is used to complicated situations with passengers. Still, she never expected to see anything life-changing. But on the flight from Seattle to San Francisco, she did.
During the flight, she noticed something particularly odd – a blonde girl in shabby clothes sitting next to an elderly man in nice clothes. While Sheila was passing them, she noticed the look the girl gave her. She felt the girl’s gaze pierce her deeply, giving her a sense of urgency.
"I had a pretty odd impression of this girl. I sensed that there was a problem. The fact that the girl was so badly dressed in comparison to the male was the first indication." Too much of a difference, Sheila thought to herself. Sheila stood up and resolved to face them both. The man acted defensively while the girl remained silent.
"At first, I sensed that something was off. He was much older than the girl sitting next to him, and he reacted violently to any movement around him. I'm happy I was able to intervene quickly and save a life."
Sheila left and returned with a new strategy to inquire about the girl's well-being. After the young lady left the washroom, she kept on checking the message she had left in the plane latrine. "I need help," she wrote. She called authorities immediately. Upon the plane's landing, police were ready to catch the man.
They found out this 14-year-old girl was a victim of human trafficking. She was kidnapped only two months before.
Retired flight attendant Nancy Rivard started the Airline Ambassadors International organization. They train attendants on how to see signs of human trafficking.
After Sheila discovered this girl, she received training from them to help her see it clearer in the future.
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