06/02/2017 14:58 GMT | Updated 06/02/2017 15:44 GMT

Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant Saves Teenage Girl From Human Trafficker

'If you see something, say something.'

A flight attendant has revealed how she saved a teenage girl from the clutches of a human trafficker.

Alaska Airlines’ Sheila Fedrick became concerned about the well-being of a disheveled young girl accompanied on a Seattle to San Francisco flight by a well-dressed older man.

Speaking to NBC about the 2011 incident, Fedrick said the couple refused to engage in conversation with her and noted that the girl “looked like she had been through pure hell.”

Sheila Fedrick's instincts proved correct and the girl was found to be a victim of human trafficking 

After discretely signalling to the girl, she said: “I left a note in one of the bathrooms. She wrote back on the note and said ‘I need help.’”

Fedrick shared her concerns with the pilot, who radioed the airport ahead, arranging for the police to meet them at the terminal.

The 49-year-old’s instincts had been correct when it emerged the teenager, aged between 14 and 15, was indeed a victim of human trafficking. 

Speaking to WTSP, Fedrick revealed she had left her number on the note and that the teen, who is now attending college, has remained in touch with her ever since.  

Reuters Photographer / Reuters
The incident occurred on board an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco in 2011 (file picture)

Fedrick added: “He [the trafficker] was well-dressed, that’s what kind of got me because why is he well dressed and she is looking disheveled and out of sorts?

“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.”

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the United States, an event proclaimed by former President Barack Obama.

Some 5,500 cases of sex trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Centre’s hotline last year.

Globally, nearly 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, according to the UN’s International Labour Organisation. An estimated 4.5 million of them are forced into sex work.