An organization training flight attendants to spot human trafficking victims is already making its mark.
Former flight attendant Nancy Rivard founded Airline Ambassadors International, an organization focused on providing humanitarian services by leveraging connections with airlines. One of their main focuses is training airline workers to spot victims of human trafficking.
Their work paid off. According to NBC News, Alaska Airlines flight attendant Shelia Fedrick said she instinctively felt something was wrong when she noticed a teen with greasy blond hair on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco.
The flight was prior to the 2016 Super Bowl, hosted in the city by the bay, which plays into the expert opinion that sex trafficking spikes during big events.
When Fedrick noticed the 14 or 15-year-old traveling with a much older, well-dressed man she tried to engage them in conversation. But the man became defensive, she told NBC News.
"I left a note in one of the bathrooms," Fedrick said. "She wrote back on the note and said 'I need help.'"
The flight attendant alerted the pilots of the situation and police were waiting in the terminal when they landed, NBC News reports.
Federick's ability to notice signs of human trafficking is what Airline Ambassadors hopes to instill in those they train. Airline Ambassadors colleagues flew to Houston prior to Super Bowl LI and trained flight attendants who wanted an understanding in recognizing signs of human trafficking.
"Airports and supporting travel hotels are major hubs of entry and exit for perpetrators and victims alike," Airline Ambassadors says. "Training is needed for airport and travel industry personnel including airport employees, hotel employees, tourism companies, ground transportation and law enforcement."
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