What process do pro pilots have to go through with their passports when on the clock? Are they afforded any shortcuts or do they have to go through security EVERY SINGLE TIME?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ They have to go through security, using the flight crew entrance which is separated from passengers. Same applies to flight attendants as well. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Jan 1 '16 at 9:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not necessarily for every flight. On short-haul it's not uncommon to fly 2-4 legs per day, and crews don't have to leave the aircraft between the legs. Then again in some countries, for example Russia, border control comes to the aircraft to check the passports even when the crew stays in the aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – Sami
    Jan 1 '16 at 12:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about immigration controls or the security screening? $\endgroup$
    – phoog
    Feb 1 '16 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ @phoog It would be interesting to learn about the immigration part too! $\endgroup$
    – verve
    Feb 1 '16 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ I assumed you were asking about immigration because you asked about passports. A pilot flying a domestic flight doesn't need a passport at all. $\endgroup$
    – phoog
    Feb 1 '16 at 23:02

Pilots (and aircrew) usually go through an expedited security screening, usually separate from passengers, in order to reduce wait times.

For example, US TSA has a program called the Known Crewmember Program that allows pilots and crew members to bypass normal (passenger) security line.

Pilots (and aircrew) have to show the documents as required by the local authorities. Usually, this will be the passport/visa or General Deceleration. This varies from country to country.

  • $\begingroup$ So, even if the pilot & crew is flying between the exact same two airports all day they have to go through some form of screening? $\endgroup$
    – verve
    Jul 21 '17 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ General Deceleration? Didn't they do that on the runway? :-) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 9 '18 at 18:41

Pilot and author Patrick Smith covers this subject in his online column Ask the Pilot:

"But of all the half-baked measures we’ve grown accustomed to, few are sillier than the policy decreeing that pilots and flight attendants undergo the same x-ray and metal detector screening as passengers...An airline pilot who once flew bombers armed with nuclear weapons is not to be trusted and is marched through the metal detectors. But those who cater the galleys, sling the suitcases, and sweep out the aisles, have for years been able to saunter onto the tarmac unmolested. If there has been a more ringing, let-me-get-this-straight scenario anywhere in the realm of airport security, I’d like to hear it."

  • $\begingroup$ So the answer is "pilots and flight attendants undergo the same x-ray and metal detector screening as passengers"? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 2 '16 at 14:00
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Exactly. Pilots are not allowed to carry scissors, bottled water, or penknives aboard. Patrick reports that airport security confiscated his Leatherman toolset just as they have from so many passengers. The TSA does not seem to have tumbled to the fact that the pilot of a large jet airplane is armed with a large jet airplane and does not need nail clippers if he wants to make trouble. $\endgroup$ Jan 4 '16 at 0:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.