Man Who Exposed Flaw in Airport Security Had 10 Expired Boarding Passes
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Airport and airline security procedures face scrutiny after a Nigerian American man somehow made it through a New York airport federal security checkpoint and boarded a Virgin America jetliner to Los Angeles International Airport using an expired boarding pass.
It wasn't until days later that Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi was arrested after trying to board a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta with another expired pass. He's been charged with being a stowaway aboard an aircraft and is scheduled to make his initial appearance Friday in federal court, the FBI said.
He could face up to five years in prison if convicted, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Investigators say Noibi, 24, 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 when he was spotted sitting in a seat that was supposed to be empty.
In an affidavit, FBI Agent Kevin Hogg said flight attendants asked Noibi for a boarding pass and he presented one that was a day old and had someone else's name on it. He also showed a University of Michigan identification card with his picture on it.
The crew determined that Noibi's name wasn't on the flight manifest.
University of Michigan spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said Noibi is not a current student but was enrolled as an engineering student at the Ann Arbor university between 2004 and 2006.
Eimiller said Noibi is a U.S. citizen who told investigators he lives in Atlanta.
The boarding pass used in New York belonged to a man who said his pass went missing from his pocket on his way to the airport on June 23 and was issued a new one at the ticket counter. Noibi is suspected of boarding the plane with the expired pass the next day.
Identity checks at airport security checkpoints were put in place as one of many new security measures after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The federal document checkers have basic fraudulent identification training.
"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."
TSA would not comment on what else happened, citing an ongoing FBI investigation.
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.
Noibi spent several days in Southern California before returning to the Los Angeles airport and trying to board an early Wednesday flight on Delta Air Lines bound for Atlanta. The FBI said he again presented an expired boarding pass at the departure gate and had no valid identification.
When questioned, Noibi acknowledged he did not pay for the Virgin America flight and explained that he traveled to Los Angeles to recruit people for his software business, the affidavit said.
He also said he was able to go through security screening Tuesday in Los Angeles by presenting a boarding pass, his student ID and a police report that his U.S. passport had been stolen. However, he spent the night at the gate after not getting on a Tuesday flight to Atlanta.
He claims his boarding pass then expired and he was denied access to the Wednesday flight.
A search of his bag found 10 expired boarding passes, none of them with his name, authorities said. Noibi was then arrested.
Noibi remained in custody.
Associated Press writers John Mone in Los Angeles, Eileen Sullivan in Washington, Jeff Karoub in Detroit and Ulana Ilnytzky in New York contributed to this story.