Something Doesn’t Feel Right
Sheila Fedrick works with in-flight customers to ensure a safe and comfortable flight. She’s used to handling her day-to-day tasks with a positive attitude. On this particular flight, from Seattle to San Francisco, Fedrick, would make a truly horrifying discovery.
Just A Normal Day, Or So She Thought
It was just another day on the job for Alaska Airlines flight attendant Sheila Fedrick. She had ten years in the industry below her belt; little could surprise the hard-working air hostess. Fedrick was working the short flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The flight was only scheduled to last two hours but for one passenger, this voyage seemed far longer.
Spotted Something Peculiar
Part of Fedrick’s job includes giving each passenger a warm welcome, ensuring that each person on the plane feels recognized and taken care of. Upon walking down the plane’s aisle, Fedrick spotted something very unusual.
Something Struck A Nerve
During her mandatory stroll down the plane’s aisle, Fedrick noticed a younger woman sitting alongside a much older man. Normally, this didn’t seem like a sight for concern but the look on the girl’s face told another story.
Something Did Not Add Up
The man sitting next to the woman was very well-dressed. He looked as if he was a businessman taking a trip for work purposes, on the other hand, the woman next to the man, looked battered, dishevelled and disorientated. Fedrick knew something was not right. This woman needed help.
She Started To Worry
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Fedrick gave a first-hand account of her thoughts when she saw the woman: “The bruises that I saw on her, her appearance, her demeanor. I knew something was just not right. [She] looked like she had been through pure hell.”
Did Not Know What To Do
Fedrick didn’t quite know how she should react. She knew nothing of the relationship between the man and woman; she could be in real danger. The face of this young girl was drained and emotionless as she stared blankly out through the plane’s window. Eventually, Fedrick put a plan into action.
Thinking On Her Feet
She knew that she had to act fast in order for her plan to be effective. She had to find out more about the man and woman’s relationship in order to gauge what to do next. Nervous and desperate to help the poor girl, Fedrick approached the passengers.
Plan Of Action
Fedrick walked over to the man and woman. Though the man responded clearly and distinctly, upon trying to speak with the woman, the older man acted in a surprising and disturbing manner.
The young woman would not meet the eyes of the concerned stewardess. When Fedrick tried to engage with her, the older man became aggressive and defensive. He would not let the girl respond herself, he was clearly preventing the girl from revealing something Fredrick. The stewardess knew that this girl was in trouble.
Call For Help
Later on in the flight, when the man seemed to calm down, Fedrick managed to ask the girl to visit the bathroom by whispering the request under her breath. As the girl entered the bathroom, she noticed a small note pinned to the bathroom window…
Fedrick understood that nothing could be done in plain view of the older man. She took out a pen and paper and wrote “Do you need help?” along with her phone number at the bottom of the page. The girl wrote a hasty response back to Fedrick.
Forced Into Action
When Fedrick went back in the bathroom to check the note, she knew she had done the right thing. The girl had responded: she was desperate to be saved from the clutches of the older man. Yes, she needed help.
Fredrick had never had a passenger encounter quite like this one. After a moment of panic, she thought back to her training and quickly made her way to the pilot’s cabin. This was an emergency.
Notifying The Pilot
Fedrick burst into the pilot cabin and immediately notified the pilot the terrifying situation. From 30,000 feet in the air, the pilot contacted the police. At this point, it was up to the San Francisco Police department to handle the horrific situation.
As soon as the plane landed, local police were waiting for the older man in the airport terminal. He was immediately arrested by the waiting authorities. The girl was in safe hands. Fredrick wood soon uncover the devastating details of the girl’s story.
What would later be revealed, was worse than she could have imagined. This was an instance where one well-trained and compassionate stewardess had most probably saved this young girl’s life. She was eternally grateful.
The battered young woman was a victim of human trafficking. An estimated millions of worldwide victims are trafficked each year, forced into labour or sex trade under life-threatening conditions. This woman had been saved from a violent fate.
In a news interview, Fedrick spoke about the harrowing challenges many women faced. She also offered some personal perspective on how situations like these could’ve popped up in the past without her knowledge:
Truth Comes Out
“I’ve been a flight attendant for ten years and it’s like I am going all the way back to when I was in training. And I was like, I could have seen these young girls and young boys and didn’t even know. If you see something, say something.” Fredrick shared.
In 2017, an estimation of 50,000 women and girls were trafficked into the United States for prostitution. Additionally, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 2,000 human traffickers and identified 400 victims who were saved before entering the dangerous underground world of illegal prostitution.
Acting On Intuition
By bravely acting upon her intuition, Fredrick had changed the life of this young woman. Clearly something was wrong, and she took action to help improve the situation. As a result of Fedrick’s deed, the teenage girl has embarked on another journey.
Strong Friendship Formed
Six years after this terrifying incident took place, the now grown woman is attending college and making plans for the future. The two women have kept in touch over the years, forming an unlikely bond that will most probably last a lifetime.
Spreading The Word
The brave flight attendant has since spoken out on multiple network news channels, and as her story has spread, she is committed to making sure that trafficking gets the media attention it deserves. With more coverage, public awareness and legal precautions, thousands more women could be saved.
Without question, the story involving Sheila Fedrick and this young woman is a true example of how one person’s courage and compassion has the potential to save a life. Let this be an example to all of us, injustice must not go unacknowledged. As Fredrick said, ‘if you see something, say something.’