Cabin stowaway caught after flying to Los Angeles on commercial flight
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A ticketless traveler managed to sneak aboard a commercial flight undetected at the San Jose International Airport and fly to Los Angeles in at least the second major security breach involving a stowaway there this year, authorities said on Wednesday.
The ticketless passenger, 62-year-old Marilyn Jean Hartman, was arrested on Monday after arriving in Los Angeles on a Southwest Airlines flight when a headcount turned up an extra passenger before the plane continued on to Phoenix, said San Jose airport spokeswoman Cheryl Marcell.
Hartman, who had been nabbed earlier this year in an unsuccessful stowaway attempt at the San Francisco International Airport, was arrested after she couldn’t produce a boarding pass, officials said.
Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests for comment from Reuters.
She was the second stowaway at the San Jose airport in the last four months, after a 15-year-old Somali immigrant boy scaled a security fence, climbed into a plane wheel well and managed to survive a flight to Hawaii.
Officials said Hartman managed to slip past a document check by Transportation Security Administration agents by posing as a member of a family group, though she and her baggage were screened by agents, and to board the plane and fly without a ticket.
But the two stowaway incidents were very different in nature, Marcell said.
“Our airport was absolutely not a factor in this situation, though we are cooperating with an investigation by TSA and Southwest officials,” she said, adding that Hartman was “never a security risk.”
The TSA is instituting changes in the layout of the document checking area to avoid such problems in the future, said agency spokesman Ross Feinstein. Southwest has also launched a probe.
Hartman was sentenced to probation and referred to a mental health residence in May following her arrest at the San Francisco airport for boarding a flight to Hawaii without a ticket and for trespassing at the airport.
Hartman told officials at the time that she was ill and wanted to get someplace warm. By midday Wednesday she was still in a Los Angeles jail in lieu of $500 bail on minor trespassing charges, a police spokeswoman said.
(Reporting by Mary Papenfuss; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)