A man identified to be Aditya Singh, 36, lived unnoticed in a secure area of Chicago’s International Airport for three months.
Singh was too afraid to fly due to the pandemic and was arrested on Saturday after airline staff asked him to produce his identification.
Police say Mr Singh arrived on a flight from Los Angeles to O’Hare International Airport on 19 October.
He reportedly was “scared to go home due to Covid”, Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said.
In a statement, The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees the city’s airports, said: “While this incident remains under investigation, we have been able to determine that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the travelling public.”
He managed to live on handouts from other passengers, she told the judge in the case.
He has been charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanour theft.
He has been barred from entering the airport if he is able to post the $1,000 (£738) for bail.