Airplane stowaway agrees to plead guilty
A Nigerian American man who was arrested after using expired boarding passes in other people's names has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of being a stowaway.
Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi acknowledged sneaking aboard a Virgin America flight from New York to Los Angeles on June 24, officials said. He was arrested as he tried to board a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta a few days later.
An FBI agent who took him into custody said he was carrying at least 10 different boarding passes. None of them belonged to him.
Noibi is scheduled to enter his plea in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. He remains in custody, U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
According to the plea agreement filed last week, Noibi faces a sentence of up to five years in federal prison. He must also pay $942 in restitution to Virgin America.
The incident sparked concern about how Noibi was able to get through layers of security -- and then avoid arrest for five days after officials discovered he was a stowaway.
Aviation safety experts said there were several major breakdowns in security procedures. Transportation Security Administration and airline officials should have noticed the ticket was expired and not in Noibi's name when he boarded at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, they said. He was allowed on board by showing his expired university ID card, even though college identification cards are not on the TSA's list of valid IDs and federal transportation sources said that it alone should not have been accepted.
In addition, after Virgin America discovered that Noibi had boarded the plane without buying a ticket, federal authorities allowed him to leave LAX after the plane landed when he had clearly violated laws.
-- Kimi Yoshino
Photo: Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times