A Nigerian man without a passport and clutching another traveler’s expired boarding pass made it through a New York airport federal security checkpoint and boarded a Virgin America jetliner to Los Angeles International Airport, authorities say.
The incident has raised questions about the effectiveness of airport and airline screening procedures in place since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Days later, Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi tried to board a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta with another expired pass and was arrested and charged with being a stowaway aboard an aircraft, the FBI said.
He could face up to five years in prison if convicted, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
He’s expected to appear in a Los Angeles federal courtroom later today.
Investigators say Noibi, whose age hasn’t been released, boarded Virgin America Flight 415 at John F. Kennedy International Airport last Friday night.
The flight crew didn’t realize an extra passenger was onboard until mid-flight.
Noibi’s name wasn’t on the flight manifest.
In an affidavit, FBI Agent Kevin Hogg said Noibi sat in a seat that was supposed to be empty. Flight attendants asked him for a boarding pass and he presented one that was a day old and had someone else’s name on it.
“Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint,” Transportation Security Administration spokesman Greg Soule said. “TSA’s review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening.”
Eimiller said the Virgin America flight crew asked law enforcement to meet the plane on arrival early Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport.
There was no immediate threat to the aircraft, so the flight wasn’t diverted, Eimiller said.
Hogg met the flight and detained and questioned Noibi.
“He wasn’t arrested at that time. Beyond traveling without a ticket there was no immediate threat,” Eimiller said.
Noibi spent several days in Southern California before returning to the Los Angeles airport on Wednesday, when he tried to board a Delta flight bound for Atlanta. The FBI said he again presented an expired boarding pass and had no valid identification.
A search of his bag found 10 expired boarding passes, none of them with his name.
Noibi was then arrested.