Human trafficking is all around us. It is estimated that there are as many as 30 million slaves in the world today who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Eighty percent of which are women, and half are children.
Airline Ambassadors International is an organization that is training flight attendants to spot human trafficking victims, and provide humanitarian services by leveraging their connection with airlines.
The organization has already started to see the fruits of their labor.
Alaska Airlines flight attendant, Shelia Fedrick, noticed a teen with greasy blond hair on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco. She said she instinctively felt something was off.
The flight took place just before the 2016 Super Bowl, which was hosted in San Francisco, where the plane was headed. Expert opinion and research suggests spikes in sex trafficking during large-scale events.
Fredrick noticed the teen traveling with a much older, well-dressed man. She tried to engage them in conversation, but the man quickly became defensive.
“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 notified the pilots of the situation, and police were waiting at the terminal when the plane landed.
Fredrick’s ability to recognize signs of human trafficking likely saved that victim’s life. It’s what Airline Ambassadors hopes to instill in every person they train.
“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.”