For many of us, airplanes symbolize a long-awaited vacation. The mood of airline passengers is usually upbeat, as many are either returning from a vacation or just starting one, leaving all worries and problems overboard.
Shelia Frederick is an Alaska Airlines flight attendant. She had no idea that a routine flight to San Francisco, USA would change her life forever.
A well-dressed man sat next to a young blonde woman of unkempt appearance. As Shelia walked past them, she caught the girl’s intense gaze.
When Shelia tried to strike up a conversation with the man, he immediately struck her as suspicious. Sensing that something was wrong, she went to the bathroom, where she left a piece of paper and a pen.
Then walking past the girl again, she signaled her by pointing to the restroom with a glance.
The girl followed the stewardess’ instructions. And when Shelia returned to the restroom, on a piece of paper she read the frightening words, «Help me.»
Shelia told the pilot, who helped call the police. Police were already on the scene when the plane landed in San Francisco.
As it turned out later, the young girl was a victim of human trafficking. Members of a criminal gang had kidnapped her two months earlier.
The girl who was rescued was only 14 years old. After the incident, Shelia became a member of Airline Ambassadors International. The organization, founded in 2009 by former flight attendant Nancy Rivard, trains flight attendants to identify victims of human trafficking among passengers.