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Do Airlines Run Background Checks?

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In looking for a job after release, a felon who has experience working in the airline travel industry may want to apply for a job at an airline. This blog post will cover whether or not airlines run background checks.

  • What Is Included in a Background Check?
  • Airline Background Check on Current Employees
  • Airline Background Check on Job Applicants
  • Do Airlines Run Background Checks on Passengers?
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
  • Tips for Getting a Job at an Airline


What Is Included in a Background Check?

Employers, like an airline, review an applicant’s background because they don’t want someone who doesn’t succeed after starting a job. This is considered to be a, “bad hire,” which is someone who:

  • Doesn’t produce quality work
  • Has a negative attitude
  • Doesn’t work well with other employees
  • Doesn’t deal well with customers
  • Doesn’t have the skills they stated on an application
  • Has attendance problems
  • Is dishonest on the job

The last question is the biggest challenge for felons. Their criminal history can be a problem when applying at an airline even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.

An employer may view:

  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Educational records
  • Criminal offenses

Background information helps an employer, like an airline, to determine a candidate’s:

  • Past mistakes
  • Character
  • Financial fitness

This allows an employer to identify hiring risks for security and safety issues for the company.

The criminal record review conducted of a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check if a felon has his or her record expunged.

Airline Background Check on Current Employees

There is no legal requirement for airlines to run background checks on current employees. In order to protect passengers and the public, most airlines run routine background checks on employees. Current employees are typically subjected to random drug and alcohol tests throughout their employment.

Airline background checks of current employees may typically include:

  • Criminal history
  • Sanction and exclusion screening
  • Sex offender registry searches
  • License verification

Airline Background Check on Job Applicants

An airline job application is typically lengthy and involved. It requests information in a variety of areas, including:

  • Personal information
  • Employment information
  • Education
  • Previous Employment
  • Military background or criminal convictions
  • Three professional references

Typically, the Human Resources Department will conduct a background investigation after a conditional job offer has been made at most airlines. The level of the background investigation will depend on an applicant’s particular job responsibilities.

Most background checks at an airline involve the preceding 10 years of employment. The check will include, but not be limited to:

  • FBI fingerprints
  • Background on work history
  • Driving record
  • Drug usage
  • Credit check

A DUI within that time may also result in denial of employment.

Because of the airline and federal requirements, airline job applicants typically undergo a special federal 10-year background investigation. An airline looks at a job applicant’s criminal background, including:

  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • DUI convictions

Typically, felonies, DUIs, and misdemeanors must have occurred within the last five years.

Dishonesty or lying on an airline employment background investigation will not only result in a denial of employment but will result in prosecution under the law. Anyone caught lying on an airline employment background investigation is usually barred from any future airline employment opportunity.

An airline employment background investigation could take several weeks.

Policies require a fingerprint criminal check for certain airport employees, including pilots and flight attendants. In order to get an airport identity badge for an airline pilot’s or a flight attendant’s position, a detailed history is required. This includes a work history and criminal history records.

The FAA requires airports to conduct employee screenings beginning with identity verification.  Employment verification includes the last 10 years of the candidate’s employment history. For the last five years of employment, the airport must obtain written verification for each job. The FAA requires the airport to conduct a criminal history check on a potential new hire for certain factors, including:

  • Gaps of employment longer than 12 consecutive months
  • The application claims that the candidate cannot substantiate
  • Any inconsistencies on the application or between the application and the employment verification check
  • A situation where an airport agent has reason to believe that the candidate has been convicted of a crime

The FAA has a list of disqualifying crimes, including:

  • Murder
  • Espionage
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed robbery
  • Destruction of the aircraft
  • Carrying a weapon or bomb aboard an aircraft

Do Airlines Run Background Checks on Passengers?

Airlines do not run a criminal background check on every passenger. Airlines do not have any police authority. If a screening is done, it is under the guidance of the TSA. It will rely on identity authentication and a risk assessment by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

The TSA screens passengers before they arrive at the airport using government and private databases containing personal information. The TSA uses the information to make a risk assessment of passengers. The air travel background check involves comparing a passenger’s name, gender, and date of birth to a terrorist watch list.

An airport background check is in place for two federal agencies: the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). When an airline conducts a background check on any passenger, the results must conform to TSA and FAA requirements.

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Doing a background check on him or herself before applying at an airline will allow a felon to know exactly what will be discovered when the airline does its review. A felon with any questions can contact an attorney. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.

There are different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run:

  • From the court in which he or she was charged
  • A credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is
  • Driving records for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver
  • An educational report through the National Student Clearing House

For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help. A felon would have the best chance at getting a job at an airline by having his or her record expunged.

Tips for Getting a Job at an Airline

Suggestions for a felon to increase his or her chances to be hired at an airline are:

  • Arrive early for an interview
  • Dress appropriately
  • Make a positive first impression on the interviewers
  • Speak clearly
  • Make a case for a new job opportunity
  • Emphasize relevant experience and skills
  • Be ready to provide a job history with a current resume

Don’t hide the fact that he or she has a felony conviction if it comes up. Instead, explain the facts about that conviction without being emotional. 

It is never a good idea to lie about your past on an application. This could result in not being considered for a job if the airline finds out about it and could result in criminal prosecution for filing a fraudulent application. Highlight skills and abilities that qualify you for the job; focus on them during the interview.

Take responsibility for past actions and explain how you are putting your life in order. Doing your own background check allows you to know what an employer will see on your record.

Remember that you are not defined by your crime(s). Be willing to see yourself in a different light and establish an honest life. The best opportunity for success in a new life begins with having support from family and friends. After all, felons do make good employees.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not airlines run background checks? Have you or someone you know had an airline run a background check? What was that like and was he or she successful in being hired?  Please tell us in the comments below.

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