The woman was caught on Delta Flight 1516 when another passenger found her sitting in their seat and she refused to move. According to Orlando's WFTV-9, the woman became argumentative and did not cooperate with the cabin crew’s requests for a boarding pass, photo ID, or to deplane.
A witness told WFTV-9 that a flight attendant asked her for her boarding pass, to which she replied, “Who knows where I threw it. I just threw it out a soon as I got on the plane.”
After that, the woman was asked for a photo ID, but she told the cabin crew that she didn’t drive and that her official ID. was at her home in Atlanta, according to a witness who spoke to WSBTV, a station in Atlanta. Instead, the woman tried to show the cabin crew a photo of herself on her phone, saying, “Ok, well I'm showing the picture ID.”
Cabin crew explain that a photo of yourself on your phone is not the same as a government-issued ID.
Understandably, the cabin crew and passengers were confused as to how the woman got on the plane in the first place if she didn’t have a ticket. According to Newsweek, the TSA released a statement that the woman was screened and passed through security despite not having a boarding pass or ID.
The plane was delayed by three hours because of this. @Delta released this statement apologizing to the passengers on the flight and states they’re now conducting their own review of how the woman got on the plane. A passenger says the woman had no ID and no ticket. pic.twitter.com/xKHZN8csJq— Deanna Allbrittin (@deannaTVnews) October 5, 2019
According to WSBTV, it took 45 minutes for the woman to leave the plane. The rest of the passengers also had to disembark and be rescreened at the gate as police and K-9 units inspected the plane. The incident ended up delaying the flight about three hours, according to WSBTV.
BREAKING: @Delta investigating how a woman without a ticket made it onto a Delta flight from Orlando to Atlanta today. Attached is a statement we got from Delta. We are digging into this for 11 and have reached out to @TSA for a statement as well. pic.twitter.com/YbmQFT8dLo— Christian Jennings (@CJenningsWSB) October 5, 2019
Delta released a statement to WSBTV, saying, “Delta apologizes to customers of flight 1516 for the delay after a person not ticketed for that flight was removed from the aircraft. Security officials then directed precautionary rescreen of everyone onboard. Delta is working with local law enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration on their investigation and we are conducting our own review of this as well.”
Local law enforcement and airport officials are currently investigating how the woman managed to board the plane. It is unclear if she has been charged with any crimes at this time.
It’s not the first time a passenger managed to slip through security. In 2018, an 11-year-old boy slipped through security at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and almost boarded a plane before he was caught.
Recently, a few airports, such as Tampa International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport, have been testing out letting non-passengers through security, though this policy is still very rare.