Airlines

Leaving Israel: Secondary Screening Doubled as Concierge Service

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Having visited Israel, I could see why everyone who’d been thought my worry about safety amusing. Not to say something couldn’t happen, but as people put it, it was safer than visiting New York as long as you didn’t go into certain areas. And that was very true. At no point during my trip did I feel nervous or unsafe, including walking around the touristy areas of Jerusalem at night.

But I was a little nervous about security at the airport. I’d heard my short stay, and the concept of a mileage run, might raise a few flags. In fact, my friend gave me his mobile number in case they wanted to call and have him vouch for me. So with that in mind, I showed up about 4 hours before my flight left.

It turned out the biggest hurdle I would face was figuring out where to check in. The board said G10. But all I could see was A, B, C, and D areas. I wandered around for a bit, too obstinate to go to the information desk and admit I couldn’t see the “G” section.

Finally I saw a little section at the far left hand side near A, proclaiming counters 1-10. This must be it!

Tel Aviv Airport Check In Counters

But there was noone there.

Tel Aviv Airport Checkin Counters 1-11

That must be because it was more than 3 hours before check in. So I hung out for about 45 min and then got nervous. I headed back to the main area and asked the information desk when check in for my flight started, it would start in another 30 minutes and they instructed me to take the elevator down to G to find it.

Oh. “G as in Ground floor”

Tel Aviv Airport Elevator Signage for G

You go through security screening before you check in, so even 30 minutes out a line was already forming. Fortunately I was at the front and they were keeping tour groups separate to speed up the process. When it was my turn the representative took my passport asking me questions about where I’d been in Israel and why. Funnily enough, as he was thumbing through my passport he zeroed in on Indonesia and asked me when I’d been. At my slightly blank look (as I was trying to remember which award trips to Asia those visits had been), he said my best guess was fine.

My passport and suitcase were then tagged with matching barcodes and I was sent on to get it X-rayed. After scanning it, I was directed to the secondary screening table. I had to wonder if I had bought too much mud? or maybe it was the two bottles of wine?

My line was about 5 people deep, but I’d only been standing there for 2 minutes before a rep approached me and told me to bring my suitcase to one of the stations. He scanned the bar code, looked at the screen and chuckled. He called another agent over who also smiled when she saw whatever it was. He then put a different bar code on my bag (having never opened it) and escorted me to priority check in.

I’m not sure how he knew I was priority since he never saw my boarding pass, but he led me to the shortest line and then stood off to the side while I checked in, then guided me to the exit with instructions for finding security.

When I went through departure security I was again flagged for secondary screening and pointed to a separate line. This line felt like it took forever as they were only allowing 1-2 people through the metal detector at a time and then painstakingly swabbing everything for explosives and asking intensive questions.

When it was my turn they asked me how I’d enjoyed the trip and where I was from, while swabbing. A minute or two later I was free to go. Nothing major or intensive at all. Now I’d love to know what exactly showed up under my bar code.

As a Star Gold I had access to the Dan Lounge, a decent, but very basic lounge. At 8PM it was pretty crowded and outlets were hard to find. They had an array of salads and hummus, a few sweet items, and some really good soup.

Tel Aviv Airport Dan Lounge

Tel Aviv Airport Dan Lounge Food

A limited array of beers and wine was complimentary.

The bathrooms were individual and unisex, and sadly no showers.

Tel Aviv Airport Dan Lounge Bathrooms

When it came time to board, which was rather chaotic as silvers, Business First, and platinums all crowded to board first, there was a screening table set up at the gate and everyone had to have their items looked through first. Made me quite glad I’d checked my bag for the return, as my screening finished before the two people in front of my who had rollerboards.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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