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An airside pass, also referred to as an airport security pass or airport identification card, gives authorised workers access to secure areas within airports in the UK. These secure areas, collectively known as the “airside,” are not just restricted zones such as boarding gates, baggage halls and runways, but also the shops, bars and restaurants which are past the security zone which all passengers must go through. Airside passes are an important part of airport security, ensuring that only designated personnel can enter restricted areas.

Roles Requiring an Airside Pass

There are many different roles which might require you to go through the identity checks and background screening required for an airside pass. Some roles which might need airside passes include airline staff, baggage handlers, maintenance personnel, air traffic controllers, and anyone who is working in a duty-free shop or café after airport security.

People applying to work in an airport will undergo the usual background and identity checks to establish who they are, and where they live. They will also usually have a basic DBS check, which looks at current criminal records. For those working in a highly restricted area such as the baggage hall or air traffic control tower, they will usually have a higher level of background counter-terrorist screening, looking at their wider family and associations. These checks can take many weeks to complete.

Getting an Airside Pass

Getting an airside pass for working in an airport involves a background check and vetting process. Employers will want to look into criminal record checks, employment verification, and security screenings. Procedures can vary by country, airport, and job responsibilities, with people in the most sensitive roles having the highest level of checking into their background. The process for getting a background check, and the sorts of checks which will be carried out should be fully explained when you first apply for an airport-based job.

People who only need to visit an airport occasionally, such as a retail district manager or engineer who might be called in to fix heating, will be eligible for a contractor or temporary airside pass. Generally, temporary pass holders will not need to go through the full accreditation and checking process but will be restricted into where they are allowed to go. They may also have to be supervised by a fully checked member of staff when they are in the restricted area.

Validity of Airside Passes

In the UK, airside pass validity can vary based on pass type and the job the holder is employed to do. Generally, passes are issued for a specific length of time. This is usually five years for airline employees, with the pass being automatically cancelled if not used for 60 days or more. Once the pass expires, the holder will have to go through the vetting and background checking again. Employers will have reminders in place to make sure employees start the checking process before their current pass runs out, meaning they can keep working without disruption.