Lifestyle & Human Interest

Flight Attendant Suspicious of Teen Girl with Older Man. Girl Writes Note in Bathroom Asking for Help


It was 2011 when Alaska Airlines flight attendant Shelia Frederick was working on a routine flight from Seattle to San Francisco. As passengers boarded the plane, Frederick noticed a bedraggled teenage girl sitting silently next to an affluent, older man.

Frederick couldn’t ignore the warning in her heart that told her something was very, very wrong. She approached the pair and tried to engage them in conversation, only to be shut down by the man’s short, defensive answers.

“Something in the back of my mind said, ‘something is not right,'” Frederick recalled. Not wanting to draw attention to herself or the girl, Frederick casually moved on with her flight duties.

As Frederick moved down the aisle, she couldn’t help but observe the girl’s tattered appearance and weary, frightened eyes set against her greasy blonde hair. Her demeanor was in stark contrast to the appropriately dressed male by her side.

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Flight Attendant Suspicious of Teen Girl with Older Man. Girl Writes Note in Bathroom Asking for Help
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As the flight progressed, Frederick devised a plan to learn if her suspicions that the teen was a sex-trafficking victim were correct. With nerves of steel, Frederick moved just within earshot of the girl and whispered for her to walk to the bathroom.

“I left a note in one of the bathrooms,” Frederick explained. “She wrote back on the note and said, ‘I need help.'”

Frederick alerted the airplane pilot, who quickly ensured that police were waiting in the terminal when the flight landed. Frederick saved a young girl’s life that day, and now, Frederick’s story is being told to countless other flight attendants and travel personnel who are learning how to spot the signs of human trafficking.

“If we can teach airline and airport employees to correctly identify them we can save a life and we have many times,” said Airline Ambassadors International founder Nancy Rivard, who recently led a training at Houston’s Hobby Airport in preparation for Superbowl LI. “Our first tip led to the bust of a pornography ring in Boston saving 86 children.”

Andrea Hobart, flight attendant with Alaska Airlines and Airline Ambassador trainer, admitted the difficulty involved with reporting suspected trafficking crimes. “One part of our training, and it’s the difficult part, but once we report it, we’re supposed to let it go,” Hobart said.

“Even though it’s hard to let it go, you transfer it into the hands of the authorities and they’ll pursue the case,” Hobart stated.

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In Frederick’s extraordinary case, she has kept in contact with the young woman she saved six years ago. “I put my phone number on the note that I left for her and I guess she memorized it, so a few weeks later, she called me,” Frederick said.

Frederick says the two have spoken a few times over the years, and is delighted to report the young woman is now attending college. Frederick has an important message to share regarding human trafficking: “If you see something, say something.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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Lifestyle & Human Interest