SAN JOSE -- Two San Jose councilmen, alarmed by a pair of high-profile security breaches at Mineta San Jose International Airport in the past four months, are calling for a public hearing on airport security to address what's being done now, and what possible improvements can be made.

"I'm definitely concerned about the two we know about and just as concerned about those that we may not know about," said Councilman Pete Constant, who along with colleague and mayoral contender Sam Liccardo called for a hearing. The recommendation will be discussed by a committee next week.

"I'm disappointed by some of the claims by airport officials that nothing's wrong, and there was no serious threat," added Constant.

The push came as a so-called "serial stowaway," Marilyn Hartman, was arrested again Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport, where the homeless woman had flown Monday from San Jose without a ticket after slipping through security. In April, a teenager attracted worldwide attention when he hopped a fence at the San Jose airport and climbed into the wheel well of a jet bound for Hawaii, miraculously surviving the trip.

After Hartman's successful sneak-aboard flight to Los Angeles, Mineta officials downplayed any security threat. Although she somehow got past ticket checkpoints, Hartman "was fully screened like the rest of the 9 million passengers," that fly out of the airport annually, said John Aitken, the airport's acting assistant director of aviation.


Advertisement

"She was as safe as any other passenger that walks through here," Aitken said.

Constant said he hopes to hear about how incidents are tracked and reported, and how it is determined if it was serious or not.

Liccardo agreed.

"We need to be clear about security at the airport, and any flight risks to passengers," he said. "It's important that we be transparent with the public about what we regard as a risk."

Constant, speaking about breaches in general, said "they're all serious in a way.

"If it happened once, it might happen again," he said. "And it might look innocuous but for all we know, it might have been one of several attempts, with someone gathering information to pass on to someone else -- a piece of a larger, nefarious plan."

Meanwhile, Hartman was at it again Thursday morning at Los Angeles International Airport, according to airport police.

Hartman, 62, was arrested for violating orders less than 24 hours old to stay away from the airport. The woman pleaded no contest to misdemeanor trespassing charges Wednesday for sneaking aboard the Los Angeles-bound Southwest Airlines jet in San Jose and was released from jail on the condition that she stay off LAX property unless she has a ticket.

Details of Thursday's arrest were not immediately available.

Hartman told reporters outside of the courthouse Wednesday that she had "made a mistake" when she sneaked past airport security Monday and onto a Southwest flight in San Jose, adding that she had only $4.25 in "piggy-bank" change and had no idea how she would get back to the Bay Area.

Hartman was arrested seven times at SFO between February and July of this year, once making it past security and all the way onto a plane at that airport. She was escorted off before takeoff after a conflict over seat assignments with another passenger revealed she had no ticket.

That's just one case that shows San Jose isn't the only airport with such breaches. A 2011 congressional inquiry into Transportation Security Administration deficiencies found 25,000 security breaches at U.S. airports since 2001, which averaged just over five breaches a year at each of the country's 457 commercial airports. About 6,000 of those incidents involved travelers not being properly screened, and more than 14,000 involved unauthorized people entering a secure part of the airport.

Liccardo said that's a matter for discussion at the proposed hearing. The proposal will be before the Rules and Open Government Committee at 2 p.m. on Wednesday in Room 118 at City Hall.

"We may find that some breaches are a systemwide issue," Liccardo said. "It's important to know what's in the realm of control for San Jose and what are the standard risks at every airport in the country."

Staff writer Erin Ivie contributed to this report. Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.