“Serial Stowaway”—69-Year-Old Woman Who Snuck Aboard 30 Flights Without A Ticket Gets Caught

Marilyn Hartman, 69, has been sneaking onto flights for over 19 years. She was arrested this week following a television interview in which she stated she was retiring.

Hartman has flown on over 30 flights without tickets. She was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Tuesday, according to CNN.

Hartman was first arrested for boarding flights without tickets back in 2014, 12 years after she originally began the illegal practice.

In 2019, Hartman had been given an electronic monitor when she broke probation at the same airport in 2019, the New York Times wrote. The airport’s staff began looking for her immediately.

Hartman told CBS2 two days before her arrest that she was retiring from sneaking onto flights.

She had previously not done interviews, preferring to wait “until I was confident that I wouldn’t take an illegal flight again,” The Times of London wrote.

“The thing I’ve got to tell you: I have never been able to board a plane by myself — I was always let through. I mean, I was able to go through the security line without a boarding pass,” she said.

“I got by them … by following someone. They would be carrying like a blue bag. And the next thing I know, I get into the TSA line and TSA lets me through, and they think I’m with the guy with the blue bag.”

She told Brad Edwards, “The first time I was able to get through, I flew to Copenhagen. The second time I flew into Paris.”

Hartman flew all over the world during her 19 years of flight-stealing. She was arrested for the first time in August 2014 after a flight from San Jose, CA to Los Angeles. The judge in that case warned her not to continue her life as a stowaway, but she was back in front of the court in seven months.

Hartman was given a sort of “code name” — O’Hare, after the airport she frequents. According to The Metro, they refer to her appearance as a “Marilyn sighting”.

Hartman has bipolar disorder and it was decided she was incompetent to stand trial. She also told CBS2 that her household was violent and home to mental illness.

“When I took the plane ride, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t, ‘Oh, I’m going here or there,’ I was in a depressed state of mind.”

Hartman is being held in Cook County Jail and is not able to post bond or be released, according to her attorney Parle Roe-Taylor.

The New York Times quoted Roe-Taylor:

“The penal system is ill equipped to treat or help clients like Ms. Hartman,” Ms. Roe-Taylor said, adding: “We must do better than simply jailing people with mental health issues. Our criminal justice system is not an institution for mental health treatment.”