Marilyn Jean Hartman, 62, has made repeated attempts to sneak aboard flights at other airports, authorities said.
Gannon said he had a feeling the woman "with a fixation on flying" would return to the airport, so police passed out fliers with pictures of Hartman to airport workers. She was seen boarding a morning FlyAway shuttle bus from downtown's Union Station to the airport, Gannon said, and was spotted wandering through several terminals "in what appeared to be a scouting mission."
Hartman was arrested for violating terms of her 24-month probation, which was issued Wednesday after she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of willfully and unlawfully entering the city as a stowaway on an aircraft.
When she left court, Hartman said she would never try to sneak onto a plane again. "It was stupid, and it is something I don't want to repeat," she said.
Hartman was being held on $10,000 bail. A court hearing will be set on Monday.
A call to her attorney, Elsie Wanton, wasn't immediately returned.
Hartman had recently left mental health treatment that she had been ordered to attend and said homelessness drove her to take "desperate measures." She said she feels safer being in airports than in the streets.
On Monday, Hartman had tried at least three times to get to a plane before she finally went past a security screener who was busy checking a family's documents at Mineta San Jose International Airport, according to law enforcement officials. They would speak only on condition of anonymity because the security breach is being investigated.
Hartman then went through the electronic screening process before entering an airport terminal.
Her boarding status was discovered once Southwest Airlines Flight 3785 landed in Los Angeles, the officials said.
The incident has led to investigations by federal officials and the airline. It came after a teenage boy stowed away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight at the airport.
In February, Hartman was sentenced to 18 months' probation in San Mateo County after being arrested for attempting to board three Hawaii-bound flights at the San Francisco International Airport on three separate days. In November 2010, Hartman made it as far as the airport baggage claim on the Hawaiian island of Kauai before being arrested, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Hartman told authorities in the past that she wanted to fly somewhere warm because she had cancer, said Steve Wagstaffe, district attorney for San Mateo County. Hartman had cancer, but she has been in remission for several years, the Chronicle reported.
Authorities placed Hartman in treatment for mental disorders in May but said she stopped attending last month.
Collins reported from San Francisco.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.