WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A man charged with stowing away on a flight from New York to Los Angeles last Friday 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."
The FBI has arrested and charged Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi with stowing away on the Virgin America flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles, according to the FBI affidavit for the case.
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.
Noibi 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 for his boarding pass, he produced a pass and ticket for the day prior and not in his name.
Noibi was not on the flight manifest, issued for each paying passenger on every U.S. domestic flight.
After initially hesitating, Noibi produced true identification to the flight crew, the affidavit said.
Noibi told the FBI the reason for his trip to LA was to recruit people for his software business. He produced multiple boarding passes for the FBI, none in his name, the affidavit said.
The proper holder of the boarding pass told the FBI he lost it from his back pocket on the subway to JFK and does not know Noibi.
Stowing away on a flight is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the FBI affidavit.
"It is important to note that this passenger was subject to the same physical screening at the checkpoint as other passengers," said Soule.
Noibi 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.
Soule said that TSA cannot comment further on the specifics of the case given the ongoing FBI investigation.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)