The security breakdown is not terrorism-related, authorities say. But for air travelers the incident is extremely unnerving and has aviation experts questioning how it could ever happen.
At the center of the story is a 24-year-old Nigerian-born man, Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, who by all appearances has spent considerable time in Chicago's western suburbs building several Internet-based businesses and traveling by air.
On Facebook, the man identifies himself as Seun Noibi, short for the unusual name of the person now charged as a stowaway by federal authorities. The I-Team first reported such links early Thursday, shortly after news of Noibi's arrest broke.
Noibi is accused of flying from New York to Los Angeles even though he didn't have a proper boarding pass and was not on the flight manifest.
On the Chicago Noibi's website, the 24-year-old Nigerian national has posted numerous photographs of himself and is a self-proclaimed African missionary.
Noibi had a residence and office in a near West Side building until a few months ago, according to neighbors.
"I remember one day looking out the back and they were packing it up, they left and that was it," said David Wolfe.
His Illinois driver's license, suspended since 2009 for not paying traffic fines, lists his residence as a home in southwest suburban Willowbrook.
On Thursday, one of several people who identified themselves as visitors to the house said he understood Noibi was in jail.
The passenger in custody was arrested Wednesday after attempting to board a flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta, five days after passing through layers of airport security at New York's JFK airport to board a plane with a day-old boarding pass. It is unclear why he wasn't arrested then, although federal authorities say the officer responsible for letting him pass is under investigation.
According to an FBI affidavit, Noibi claimed to have lost his passport and showed authorities a police report that his passport had been stolen.
On Thursday, Chicago police told the I-Team that the Noibi from here recently filed such a missing passport report. On his website, Noibi wrote a week ago, "3 days, 3 cities, chicago, detroit and NOw i can spy with my little eye new york city."
Noibi is locked up in the federal detention center in Los Angeles. He will appear in a U.S. District courtroom Friday morning for an initial appearance on charges that he was a stowaway.
On one of the Noibi websites, the I-Team found a statement that could give some context to the incident. Noibi states, "I'm a huge airport crier. If I'm running to catch my connection and they shut the doors, I'll start sobbing and oh God it gets nasty."