The Ultimate Guide to Airside Pass

UK Heathrow Airport airside pass for employees

What Is Airside Pass

An airside pass, also known as an airport security pass or airport identification card, is a credential that grants authorized individuals access to secure areas within an airport, including Heathrow Airport. These areas, referred to as the “airside,” typically include restricted zones such as boarding gates, aircraft aprons, runways, and other areas beyond the passenger screening checkpoints. Airside passes are essential for maintaining the security and integrity of the airport and ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to restricted areas.

Pilots with airside pass to work at airport

What Roles Need an Airside Pass

Airside passes typically feature identification information and may include a photograph, name, organization, and expiry date. These passes need to be visibly displayed while the individual is in the secure areas of the airport. Airside passes are issued to individuals who require regular access to these secure areas for their job responsibilities. This includes airport employees, airline staff, ground crew, maintenance personnel, air traffic controllers, and others involved in aviation operations.

Here are some common job categories and their typical pass type:

Temporary/Visitor Passes: These passes are usually issued for short-term access, such as contractors or visitors. They are typically valid for a few days up to a few weeks, depending on the specific circumstances and requirements.

Contractor Passes: Contractors who require regular or ongoing access to airside areas may be issued passes that are valid for several months or even up to a year. The duration is often determined by the length of the contract or project.

Employee Passes: Employees of airlines, ground handling companies, or other organisations working within the airport may receive passes with longer validity periods. These passes can be valid for several years, often tied to the duration of the employment contract.

Restricted area of airport requiring airside pass to enter

How to Get Airside Pass

The issuance of airside passes involves a thorough background check and vetting process, which includes criminal record checks, employment verification, and security screenings. However, the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining a pass can vary by country, airport, and the nature of the individual’s job responsibilities. Given this, we recommend you consult with the appropriate authorities or your employer for detailed instructions and guidance throughout the process.

To obtain an airside pass, which grants you access to restricted areas within an airport, you typically need to follow these steps:

  1. Identify the Airport: Determine which airport you need access to and where you will be working or require entry.
  1. Understand the Requirements: Research and understand the specific requirements for obtaining an airside pass at that particular airport. Each airport may have its own regulations and procedures.
  1. Employment or Affiliation: Usually, you must have a valid reason for requiring airside access, such as being an employee of an airline, ground handling company, airport authority, or having a contractual affiliation with an aviation-related organization. In most cases, you’ll need a sponsoring organization to support your application. This could be your employer or the organization you are affiliated with. They will often be responsible for initiating the application process and vouching for your need to access the airside areas.
  1. Application Submission: Complete the necessary application forms provided by the airport or sponsoring organization. Include all required documents and information, such as identification, employment details, and references.
  1. Background Check: Expect to undergo a thorough background check as part of the application process. This typically includes verifying your identity, criminal history, and employment history. Some airports may also require additional security checks, such as fingerprinting or obtaining security clearances.
  1. Application Review: Your application will be reviewed by the airport authorities or a designated department responsible for granting airside access. The review process may take some time, so be prepared for potential delays.
  1. Badge Issuance: If your application is approved, you’ll be issued an airside pass or identification badge. This badge typically includes your photo, name, and other relevant information. You may be required to pay a fee for the issuance of the badge.
  1. Compliance and Renewal: Once you receive your pass, it’s crucial to adhere to all airport regulations and security protocols at all times. Remember to renew your pass as required, which typically involves submitting updated information and undergoing periodic background checks

Depending on the airport and the nature of your role, you may also be required to complete certain training programs or security awareness courses. These programs ensure you understand the regulations, safety procedures, and security protocols in place within the airside areas. Heathrow Airport ID Centre FAQs detail more about obtaining the pass.

How Long Does an Airside Pass Last?

The validity of airside passes in the UK can vary depending on several factors, including the type of pass, the purpose of access, and the policies of the specific airport or organization. In general, passes are issued for a specific duration, typically five years for employees of an airline, but if you don’t use it for 60 days or more it’ll be deactivated.

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