SAN FRANCISCO — A woman who took a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to Los Angeles without a ticket tried at least three times that day to breach airport security before she managed to board the plane, federal law-enforcement officials said Wednesday.
It was the San Jose airport’s second security breach in recent months, after a teenage Somali immigrant stowed away in the wheel well of an April flight from there to Hawaii.
Marilyn Jean Hartman bypassed an agent who was screening boarding passes Monday at Mineta San Jose International Airport by sneaking through with a family, said the law-enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Hartman then went through the electronic-screening process before entering an airport terminal. Authorities say she made it through screening because she had no prohibited items on her or in her purse.
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Hartman, 62, then boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 3785 to Los Angeles International Airport and was discovered once the plane landed, the officials said.
The San Francisco woman subsequently was arrested and jailed on suspicion of trespassing. She was being held at the Los Angeles County Jail.
Her attorney, Elsie Wanton of San Francisco, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who raised security concerns after April’s breach, said the latest incident was an “apparent failure by both airport security and the airline of protecting passengers from a potential threat to their safety.”
In the previous incident, Yahya Abdi, 15, hopped a fence at San Jose’s airport and hid in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight. He survived the arduous journey and dropped to the tarmac at a Maui airport about an hour after the plane landed. Abdi said he was trying to see his mother, a refugee in Ethiopia. He has not been charged.
San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said Wednesday the two incidents were unrelated. She said the airport is assisting separate investigations conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Southwest on how Hartman was able to board the flight.
Barnes said no security breach was committed since Hartman made it through the electronic-screening process. “Public safety was not compromised in any way,” Barnes said. “We’re looking into how this person got past the document checker and the airline gate agent without a ticket.”
TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said the agency already has made some changes to the document-checking process at the San Jose airport. “The agency has initiated minor modifications to the layout of the document-checking area to prevent another incident like this one,” said Feinstein, who declined to go into specifics.
Southwest said it was “actively investigating” the incident.
Hartman has a history of trying to sneak onto flights without a ticket and could be in violation of her court-ordered probation, authorities said.
In February, she was sentenced to 18 months’ probation in San Mateo County after being arrested for attempting to board three Hawaii-bound flights at the San Francisco International Airport on three separate days.
She was arrested three more times in the next two months at the San Francisco airport, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt said Wednesday.