A woman who earned the nickname ‘Serial Stowaway’ after she spent nearly two decades sneaking onto dozens of flights without a ticket has revealed how her confident demeanor helped her bypass security with ease. 

By MEGAN SHEETS

In her first media interview ever, 69-year-old Marilyn Hartman opened up to CBS2 about her stunning history of illegal joyrides around the country and across the world. 

Speaking from Cook County Jail in Chicago, where she’s awaiting trial for her latest brush with law enforcement, Hartman estimated that she managed to get onto at least 30 flights illegally since 2002.  

Records show Hartman was arrested in at least 20 airport incidents between 2014 and 2019. Over that period TSA agents became well acquainted with her face and ultimately started calling for back-up as soon as they spotted her. Hartman is pictured in various mugshots

‘I got by them – this is the thing that is so crazy – by following someone they would be carrying like a blue bag,’ she said. ‘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.’ 

The explanation raised more questions than it answered as she didn’t clarify what she meant by ‘someone with a blue bag’. 

A CBS2 review of court records and police reports showed that Hartman was repeatedly caught carrying a boarding pass from another passenger or arriving in another country without documentation to get through Customs. 

But those accounts only tell part of Hartman’s story, as she claims to have flown under the radar – quite literally – for 12 years before authorities first caught on to her scheme.  

The CBS2 report also questioned whether others should be held responsible for the fact that Hartman was able to sneak through airports so many times.    

‘For her to be able to repeat that over and over, that is just mind boggling,’ aviation security expert Jeff Price told the outlet.

This map shows the trips serial stowaway Marilyn Hartman took in the US and Europe

‘The genius of her mode of operation is in its simplicity. It’s the unsophisticated types of plans are often the most successful.’ 

Price, who once led security at the Denver International Airport, called for the TSA to use Hartman’s example in its training of new agents.  

‘They literally should have a curriculum designed around how she’s able to get through security and that should be taught to every Transportation Security Officer out there,’ he said.  

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