San Jose airport officials and the Transportation Security Administration are downplaying the fact that Marilyn Hartman, a 62-year-old homeless woman and well-known trespasser boarded a plane and completed a flight without a ticket on Wednesday of this week. Their explanation was that the stowaway posed no security threat because she passed a TSA screening.
Each time I fly, I must present my boarding pass to the TSA agent before I am asked to remove my shoes, place any liquids and computer into a tray, slide the trays through the X-ray machine along with my travel bag while I walk through a metal detector. So, how was all this possible for Hartman without a boarding pass?
There are critics to what happened. Rep, Eric Swalwell, the only California congressman on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said, “The woman [referring to Hartman] was harmless, but there are people who I don’t want on an airplane even if they go through security screening, who the public doesn’t want on an airplane.”
Come to find out, Hartman has been arrested seven times this year for trying to sneak onto flights at San Francisco International Airport. She bypassed two ticket checkpoints and went undetected for an entire trip from San Jose to Los Angeles while flying on Southwest airlines. And, she was caught aboard another airline earlier in the year when a passenger claimed that she was in his seat.
Supposedly this time, Hartman was able to sneak past the TSA ticket checkpoint after three failed tries, blend in with a family and slip past the guard. At that point, she tried to board an Alaskan Airlines flight, but was not allowed, so she blended in with other passengers boarding a Southwest flight, successfully getting past the gate agent.
Hartman has explained to authorities that she has cancer and she just wanted to go somewhere warm. After pleading no contest, she was released on the condition that she must stay away from the airport unless she has a legitimate boarding pass.
Heart stings have been pulled by many who have read her story and a gofundme.com has been set up to gather enough money to send Hartman to Hawaii as well as help with her cancer treatments. If she doesn't have cancer, the funds will be donated to UCSF oncology. So far, $415 has been raised.
Image courtesy of San Mateo County Sheriff's Office via The San Francisco Examiner.)