Airport security have a new villain to deal with: the ‘serial stowaway’.
Airport security have a new villain to deal with: the ‘serial stowaway’.

The ‘serial stowaway’ strikes again in the US

IN THE world of air travel, they don't get more daring - or defiant - than Marilyn Jean Hartman.

The 66-year-old has a bizarre history of slipping past security and sneaking on to flights without a boarding pass or passport. And despite being caught plenty of times, she appears undeterred.

Hartman was sprung trying to fly to Hawaii as a stowaway in 2014. That same year, she managed to fly all the way from San Jose to Los Angeles.

In 2015, she flew as a stowaway from Minnesota to Florida, and was detained after trying to bypass airport security twice in Chicago.

In 2016, Hartman was sentenced to two years' probation and six months of house arrest after yet another arrest at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Hartman's bizarre and relentless behaviour earned her the title of America's "serial stowaway". And now, police claim she's struck again.

Chicago police said Hartman was arrested at O'Hare airport on Thursday after she allegedly slipped past security and boarded a London-bound British Airways flight - which was already in the air before airline staff realised she didn't have a boarding pass.

When her plane touched down at London Heathrow she was sent straight back to Chicago, where she was arrested upon her arrival.

Marilyn Jean Hartman was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on January 18 local time. Picture: Chicago Police Department via AP
Marilyn Jean Hartman was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on January 18 local time. Picture: Chicago Police Department via AP

According to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, Hartman allegedly pulled off the caper by getting though a federal Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at a domestic terminal without a ticket, and then taking a shuttle to the international terminal.

She boarded the British Airways flight the next day.

Since her arrest, Hartman has been charged with felony theft and a misdemeanour count of criminal trespassing.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is investigating.

"During the initial investigation it was determined that the passenger was screened at the security checkpoint before boarding a flight," the agency said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

"Upon learning of the incident, TSA, and its aviation partners, took immediate action to review security practices throughout the airport."

Chicago Department of Aviation said no passengers were put in danger as a result of the incident.

"We are working with our law enforcement partners to support a comprehensive and thorough investigation, while continuing to maintain the highest levels of security at O'Hare Airport," department spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said.

A 2015 feature on Hartman by San Francisco's SF Gate said Hartman had experienced homelessness and mental illness and felt "the need to get on a plane to go away". At the time of that article, Hartman had reportedly tried to breach airport security nationwide at least 18 times.

But her story appeared to be wearing a little thin for authorities, even before her London trip.

"Ms Hartman, what am I supposed to do?" Illinois judge William Raines asked her during a hearing in May 2015, according to NBC Chicago.

Hartman faced the same judge the next year.

"The only reason why you're not going to jail this time is because all these people that are here trying to help you still want to help you. I can't figure out why that is," Judge Raines told Hartman, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"There's no more feeling sorry for you. I think you're addicted to the attention."

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