Federal agents have arrested a Nigerian man after he successfully flew from New York to Los Angeles, and tried to fly from there to Atlanta, without having a valid boarding pass for either flight.
Investigators say Olajide Noibi boarded a Virgin America flight that left John F. Kennedy Airport last Friday.
Neither the airline nor the Transportation Security Administration noticed that his ID -- a University of Michigan student card -- did not match the name on his boarding pass. While the plane was in the air, flight attendants became suspicious because Noibi was sitting in a seat that the passenger list indicated was empty.
Noibi handed them a boarding pass that was for a flight the day before. Investigators say he told them he had missed that flight.
The flight crew then realized that his name didn't match the name on the boarding pass and that he was not on the passenger list. An FBI agent later discovered that the boarding pass Noibi presented had been printed out by a New York man who lost it in the subway on his way to Kennedy Airport for that same flight.
Virgin America said in a statement that it was working with the FBI in the investigation into how Noibi passed TSA screening at JFK and boarded with an erroneous boarding pass.
"The airline maintains security and other screening systems in place to prevent such an occurrence, however in this case it appears staff may have missed an alert when the passenger presented a boarding pass from a prior flight," Virgin said.
Los Angeles FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says FBI Agent Kevin R. Hogg met the flight from New York and detained and questioned Noibi before letting him go. "He wasn't arrested at that time. Beyond traveling without a ticket there was no immediate threat," Eimiller said.
An FBI agent then arrested him on Wednesday when he tried to board a Delta flight to Atlanta. The agent said Noibi had at least 10 other boarding passes in one of his bags -- none of them in his own name.
Eimiller said Noibi is in custody pending a 10:30 a.m. hearing Friday in Los Angeles. Noibi has been charged with being a stowaway.
The TSA said in a statement that it could not comment on the specifics of the case, but pointed out that the passenger had gone through security screening.
A law enforcement official tells NBC New York that the man is not believed to have ties to terrorism, and may have mental problems.
It was not immediately clear whether Noibi had a lawyer.
A family member told NBC New York that Noibi was "not a bad guy" and said he did not know why his nephew had been in New York City.