As you watch airline employees carry your suitcases away to be checked and work on the equipment of your waiting airplane, it's natural to wonder: Just who are those workers and have they been fully vetted? That's why it's reassuring to understand the requirements associated with being granted a Security Identification Display Area badge. All workers who are allowed to access secure parts of an airport must be approved for this SIDA badge. And while the airport itself grants these badges, applicants must meet safety standards set out by the federal government.

Who Needs a SIDA Badge?

Anyone whose job involves entering secure areas of the airport must carry a SIDA badge. The badge allows its holder to access those areas without an escort. Exactly which areas are accessible with a SIDA badge varies by airport. As you move throughout the airport, you'll probably notice many doors marked with signs stating that only workers with SIDA badges may enter them.

How Does a Worker Get a SIDA Badge?

Although badge holders must meet some requirements set by the Transportation Security Administration, employees who need to have SIDA badges must apply through their employers. Typically, new airport employees will apply for the badge just after being hired.

An airport's security office usually handles badge applications and approvals. Each office uses its own application, which asks for basic personal information including Social Security number and address as well as the name, contact information and title of the applicant's supervisor. The application will likely ask if the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony.

A long list of crimes disqualifies a person from getting a SIDA badge. Anyone who was convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of one of the relevant crimes within the previous 10 years is automatically rejected for a badge. Disqualifying crimes include murder, rape, unlawful possession of a weapon or explosive and a long list of airport- and aircraft-related crimes. The employer should be able to provide SIDA badge applicants with the full list of disqualifying crimes.

What Must an Applicant Provide?

SIDA badge applicants must present two forms of identification to prove identity and employment eligibility. The employer should provide the applicant with a list of acceptable documents. A passport, a driver's license and a Social Security card are examples of some of the documents that are typically accepted. Applicants must agree to give their fingerprints, which are then sent to the TSA and run through a criminal history background check. This background check costs about $50, which the employee may have to pay for. The last requirement for obtaining a SIDA badge is a Secure Threat Assessment run by the Transportation Security Administration. Applicants are checked against a terrorist screening database and their immigration status is also checked.

Even if an applicant lies about having been convicted of one of the disqualifying crimes, the fingerprint check and STA can reveal that information. No one will be approved for a SIDA badge if they've given any indication that they pose a threat to airplane passengers, which should reassure you the next time you watch those badged workers move freely throughout the airport.