Increased security concerns at San Jose Airport after second stowaway incident

ByDavid Louie, Ama Daetz, and Matt Keller KGO logo
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Stowaway passenger rattles airport passenger nerves
After 62-year-old Marilyn Hartman managed to sneak past Mineta San Jose airport and Southwest security, passengers are concerned about security.

LOS ANGELES (KGO) -- For the second time in four months, a stowaway has gotten past security at Mineta San Jose International Airport. The first case involved a 15-year-old who climbed into a wheel well of a Hawaii-bound jet and survived.

Passengers are supposed to have their boarding pass and ID checked by TSA at the first checkpoint. Marilyn Hartman slipped past anyway.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., sits on the House Homeland Security subcommittee. He's concerned because if the woman could get past security, someone intent on wrong-doing probably could, too.

"She went to the security area, and was not allowed to go through the security area, but rather snuck around a family that was having their boarding passes checked," said Swalwell.

The airport's spokesperson looks at the incident differently.

"This was not a security breach. I reiterate, this was not a security breach. The passenger was screened for prohibited items," said Rosemary Barnes.

The TSA says because Hartman was screened, they did not consider her a threat.

Still Hartman slipped through the boarding process at the gate, where Swalwell says she got past a Southwest agent by going around another family that was boarding.

The real harm may be to public confidence in airport security.

"Any publicized breach of security is unsettling to the public, both in terms of undermining our perception of safe air travel and in terms of increasing cynicism about the entire aviation security process," said aviation security expert Brian Jenkins.

"Well, I think someone really screwed up, a couple of them, security and Southwest actually," said passenger Rich Underwood.

Hartman was arraigned in Los Angeles Wednesday. The 62-year-old was charged with being a stowaway on an airliner. She pleaded no contest and a judge sentenced her to three days of time served in jail and two years of probation. She spoke to the media after her court appearance.

"It was clearly wrong on my part and I really don't want to do it again because I certainly don't want to do any jail time," said Hartman.