UPDATE 02/09/17: A new piece published by Reason executive editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown has raised new questions regarding this alleged feel-good story. the piece, published Thursday, alleges the sex-trafficked teen tale may be nothing more than sheer propaganda for immigration enforcement. "The hero of all this hoopla, 49-year-old Shelia Fedrick, has been an Alaska Airlines flight attendant for 10 years," Brown said. "She also lists model and actress on online resumes and talent-portfolios. Beyond this, Fedrick has little online trail, and my attempts to reach her this week were unsuccessful."

But there's more:

"NBC notes that the girl in Fedrick's story is now in college, but it does not say what happened to her alleged trafficker. Whatever happened to him, the dramatic incident received little public attention in 2011. While the news that year is full of stories about a man arrested at the San Francisco International Airport for wearing baggy pants, plus stories about local efforts to stop sex trafficking, none mention a human trafficker apprehended at a Bay Area airport that year. The San Francisco Police Department's (SFPD) web archives turn up similarly scant results. And nothing fitting the description is mentioned in a statewide 2012 report about successful anti-trafficking efforts in the previous year."

Peep Brown's full piece here.

See original story below.

During a flight from Seattle to San Francisco in 2011, Alaska Airlines flight attendant Shelia Frederick noticed something peculiar about a young passenger. Frederick noticed the young woman "looked like she had been through pure hell" and wouldn't respond to her questions, WTSP reported. The man accompanying her, however, was "well-dressed" and spoke on her behalf.


"Something in the back of my mind said something is not right," Frederick told WTSP. Frederick's instincts kicked in, prompting her to slyly tell the passenger "under her breath" to visit the restroom. Frederick had left a note on the restroom mirror and received a troubling response. "She wrote on the note she needed help," Frederick said. After local authorities were alerted, the truth became clear: Frederick had saved the young girl, who was "14 or 15 years old" at the time, from being a victim of human trafficking. Frederick and the teen, who's currently attending college, have talked "a few times" since that fateful day in 2011.

Making sure these instincts are an industry-wide trait is the focus of Airline Ambassadors, founded by former flight attendant Nancy Rivard. Speaking with NBC News this weekend, Rivard and others revealed the most difficult aspect of training was simply learning to let go once the authorities get involved.

"One part of our training, and it's the difficult part, but once we report it, we're supposed to let it go," Andrea Hobart, Airline Ambassador trainer and Alaska Airlines flight attendant, told NBC News. "Even though it's hard to let it go, you transfer it into the hands of the authorities and they'll pursue the case."

In 2016 alone, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 2,000 human traffickers and successfully identified 400 victims.