The FBI has arrested and charged Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi with stowing away on a Virgin America flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles last Friday, according to the FBI affidavit for the case.
Noibi apparently cleared airport security screening, the Transportation Security Administration confirmed on Thursday.
Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint, said TSA spokesperson Greg Soule in a statement.
TSA's review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening.
Noibi, who was not on the flight manifest issued for each paying passenger on a U.S. domestic flight, was discovered mid-flight in a cabin seat after a flight attendant was told by other passengers the seat was supposed to be empty. When Noibi was asked to show his boarding pass, he produced a pass and a ticket for the day prior and not in his name.
The proper holder of the boarding pass told the FBI that he lost it from his back pocket on the subway to JFK and does not know Noibi.
The FBI was notified by a dispatcher from Los Angeles Airports Police and the captain of the flight after takeoff that Noibi had boarded the plane. He told the FBI the reason for his trip to LA was to recruit people for his software business. According to the affidavit, he produced several boarding passes for the FBI, none of which were in his name.
Stowing away on a flight is a felony in the United States, punishable by up to five years in prison.
The incident heightened concerns about holes in airport security screenings.
Noibi, of Nigeria, claimed to the FBI that he was able to go through screening with the boarding pass, his University of Michigan identification, and a police report that his passport had been stolen.
Initially, Noibi was released last Friday after being questioned by authorities. However, he was arrested Wednesday when FBI agents found him trying to board another flight (from Los Angeles to Atlanta) without a valid boarding pass.
When the FBI searched his bag, they uncovered more than 10 other boarding passes in various names.