The San Jose Mercury News reports a woman was arrested Monday for sneaking past security at Mineta San Jose International Airport and hitching a ride to Los Angeles International Airport without a ticket.
The security breach marks the second successful stowaway attempt at Mineta San Jose International Airport this year. In April, a 15-year-old boy jumped the security fence onto the airport tarmac and stowed away in the wheel well of a Maui-bound flight.
A spokesperson for the airport says the two incidents are “completely unrelated.”
This may be the woman’s first time getting caught at the San Jose airport, but it’s apparently not her first attempt at sneaking onto a flight. The 62-year-old woman is allegedly a notorious stowaway, having been arrested multiple times for similar breaches at San Francisco International Airport.
So how was the woman finally able to best TSA agents and gate operators to get the free ride? Apparently not without a bit of perseverance.
A source familiar with Monday’s incident tells The Mercury News that the woman attempted to get around TSA ticket screeners three times before finally slipping by while an agent was examining a family’s tickets.
The woman then reportedly went through security screening devices before unsuccessfully attempting to board several planes in the B terminal of the airport. Eventually she was able to sidle past the gate operator and onto the Southwest Flight to LAX.
It was unclear why the woman was not removed from the terminal following her unsuccessful attempts to board other flights.
A head count of passengers on the flight to Phoenix didn’t add up to the correct number, so the crew asked everyone to show their tickets. Unable to produce a ticket out of thin air, the stowaway was arrested.
Monday’s arrest is the woman’s seventh related to attempts to sneak on planes or circumventing airport security, Mercury News reports.
According to prosecutors, the woman was placed on probation in February after she was arrested three times for trying to board three Hawaii-bound flights departing from San Francisco.
In one case she made it through security and was found in a ticketed passenger’s seat before being arrested. Two following attempts ended in her arrest after trying to get through the TSA line.
Over the next two months, she would be arrested three additional times in the San Francisco airport’s food court, baggage claim and in a restroom for violation of her probation and a restraining order.
According to police officials, a hearing in May determined the woman suffered from a “major mental illness” and placed in a mental health facility. It was unclear what treatment the woman received and whether or not she was staying at the facility before Monday’s incident.
A spokesperson for Southwest tells the Mercury News that the airline is working with authorities and conducting its own internal investigation into the stowaway situation.
Serial SFO stowaway makes way to Los Angeles via flight from Mineta San Jose [San Jose Mercury News]