Woman Pleads No Contest to Boarding LA-Bound Flight Without Ticket

Airport officials say she has tried to sneak onto flights at least six other times

A woman accused of making it through airport security without a boarding pass and taking a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to Los Angeles pleaded no contest Wednesday to a misdemeanor trespassing charge after being arrested at LAX two nights earlier.

Marilyn Hartman, 62, was charged in connection with willfully and unlawfully entering Los Angeles as a stowaway on an aircraft, a misdemeanor, according to the LA City Attorney's Office. She was ordered to 24 months on probation and three days in jail.

Hartman, whose court-appointed attorney said she was homeless, was also ordered to "stay away from LAX" unless she has a ticket to board a flight.

Hartman allegedly bypassed a document checker after a few failed attempts at Mineta San Jose International Airport on Monday night and boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 3785 to LAX.

Southwest flight crews noticed the Bay Area resident after doing a head count when the plane landed in Los Angeles, officials said.

Hartman has previously breached security at San Francisco International Airport and has a history of trying to get on flights without a ticket, officials said.

Three times in February, twice in March and at least once in April she tried to board flights at SFO, where she has a restraining order against her, officials said.

At least twice she was able to breach Transportation Security Administration security and make her way into the boarding area. But the Los Angeles-bound flight from San Jose was the first time she flew anywhere.

The flight to LAX caught the attention of a US congressman who sits on a Homeland Security committee.

"This can't happen," said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California. "We're fortunate this woman was harmless. But we might not be so fortunate in the future."

"San Jose has training issues that I think it needs to fix, because passengers want to know only screened and ticketed passengers are on that plane," he said. "And if that's not the case, the general public's confidence in air safety will collapse, and that will affect all of us."

San Jose Airport officials said Wednesday the incident was not a security issue because the woman was screened by the TSA.

"She was screened for prohibited items," said Mineta San Jose International Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes. "This was not a security breach."

The TSA issued a statement and said the woman was not a threat.

"The individual was screened along with all other passengers to ensure that she was not a security threat to the aircraft. Following an initial review by TSA at San Jose International Airport, the agency has initiated minor modifications to the layout of the document checking area to prevent another incident like this one," the statement read.

Southwest Airlines and TSA officials said they have opened an investigation into what happened.

Tony Kovaleski and Conan Nolan contributed to this report.

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