Alaska Airlines flight attendant saved a young female passenger from human trafficking during a flight in Awareness of the problem and patterns of human trafficking has increased significantly in recent years, leading to efforts to train those who work in fields that often intersect with that form of crime — such as the lodging and transportation industries — to be aware of the common signs of human trafficking activity.
Groups such as Airline Ambassadors International AAI and the International Air Transport Association IATAfor example, help educate flight attendants to keep an eye out for passengers particularly youngsters who exhibit the following potential signs of being victims of traffickers:. Does the passenger defer to another person to speak for him or her, or to someone who seems to be in control of the situation Flight attendant rescues woman sex trafficking captor.
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Is the person speaking of a modelling, dancing, singing, hospitality job, etc. That awareness reportedly paid off in the case of Alaska Airlines flight attendant Shelia Fedrick, whose reported quick thinking in helping to assist a trafficking victim on a flight in has since been immortalized in a social media meme:.
A flight attendant named Shelia Fredrick noticed a terrified girl on a flight accompanied by an older man.
Fredrick discreetly told the girl to go to the bathroom, where she had left a note asking if she was OK. Shelia Fedrick said she instinctively felt something was wrong the moment she saw the girl with greasy blonde hair sitting in the window seat of aisle 10 on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco.
Fedrick guessed that the girl was about 14 or 15 years old, travelling with a notably well-dressed older man. The stark contrast between the two set off alarm bells in her head.
Fedrick says she called the pilot and told him about the passengers, and when the plane landed, police were waiting in the terminal. Such news reports seemed to be straightforward and heartwarming accounts of one very tangible success stemming from human trafficking awareness training among flight crews, one that most readers accepted at face value.
For example, when aviation and travel journalist Christine Negroni reported on an incident in which a couple traveling by air with their adoptive daughter were wrongly suspected of being human traffickers by a flight attendant, she noted of the Shelia Fedrick case that:.
According to the account, police boarded the plane at San Francisco International Airport and took the male suspect into custody. The big problem with the story, though is that it may not be true.
It declined to contact the flight attendant, Shelia Fedrick, on my behalf. San Francisco Airport has no record of the event. As recently as last week, however, AAI was still promoting the story as proof that flight attendants can and do stop human trafficking.
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Writing in ReasonElizabeth Nolan Brown observed that news coverage of the then six-year-old incident seemed to come out of the blue, and the timing appeared more than coincidental:. Her story is part of a campaign from Airline Ambassadors International, whose staff was in Houston to train flight attendants ahead of the  Super Bowl.
Like many groups focused on the issue, AAI used the myth of a sports-related sex trafficking boom to permeate the Super Bowl news-cycle. When the Super Bowl was held in San Francisco, inthe airport teamed up with Airport Ambassadors International and others for employee training on human trafficking awareness.
None of the materials promoting this event mention any previous trafficking busts at the airport based on flight-attendant tips. DHS did, however, note the new slogan for its Super Bowl-related campaign: But each new iteration failed to produce additional facts. There was no follow-up on where the alleged trafficker had come from, what happened to him after the flight — arrest?
The hero of all this hoopla, year-old Shelia Fedrick, has been an Alaska Airlines flight attendant for 10 years. She also lists model and actress on online resumes and talent-portfolios. Beyond this, Fedrick has little online trail, and my attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Whatever happened to him, the dramatic incident received little Flight attendant rescues woman sex trafficking captor attention in While the news that year is full of stories about a man arrested at the San Francisco International Airport for wearing baggy pants, plus stories about local efforts to stop sex trafficking, none mention a human trafficker apprehended at a Bay Area airport that year.
And nothing fitting the description is mentioned in a statewide report about successful anti-trafficking efforts in the previous year. The SFPD told me to Flight attendant rescues woman sex trafficking captor the airport about it; the airport never got back to me.
Not only was news reporting on this incident lacking any information about the perpetrator and his fate, but about the putative victim as well. How old was she?