A teenage girl was rescued from human trafficking when a flight attendant noticed the “disheveled” girl and left her a note in the plane’s bathroom.
Flight attendant Shelia Fedrick was assisting passengers aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco when she noticed a girl with greasy blonde hair sitting next to an older man, NBC reports.
Ms Fedrick said she instinctively felt something was wrong when she saw that the man accompanying the girl was well-dressed, while the teen, who she guessed was 14 or 15 years old, “looked like she had been through pure hell”.
“Something in the back of my mind said something is not right,” Fedrick told WTSP.
The 49-year-old said the man became defensive when she started a conversation with him, leading the flight attendant to take action based on her hunch that something was wrong.
"I left a note in one of the bathrooms," Fedrick told NBC.
"She wrote back on the note and said 'I need help.'"
Fedrick said she then told the pilot who contacted authorities. Police were waiting at the terminal when the plane landed and arrested the man.
That incident was in 2011, but it has stuck with the flight attendant, who keeps in contact with the girl she saved.
About 2000 people were arrested on human trafficking charges in the US last year, while 400 victims were identified, NBC reports.
Fedrick's story was shared as part of a recent seminar to train flight crews to spot the signs and stop human trafficking.
Since 2009, former flight attendant Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors, has been training flight crews to look for passengers who appear frightened, ashamed or nervous, don't look related to the adult they are travelling with or appear to be drugged.