Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sky News highlighting Israeli Security for flights

Sky News is right now doing an interview here at Ben-Gurion airport and talking about how our airport is the safest in the world, how our flights (El Al) are the safest and have the best security procedures of any airline in the world whether flying out of Israel or flying from any other destination in the world. Yeah, we know how to do security. We've had to learn! They were pointing out that we have a special school that all security people for our flights have to go through and that the training is intensive --that other airlines have turned to Israel in the past for help in training advice for their security but that none have the kind of training or safety check procedures like we do.

We rock. Yes we do.

So, what are some of the things that we do differently?

First, you have to arrive 3 hours ahead of a flight rather than just 2 hours because of the extra checks you go through. When you arrive at the front check-in terminal you cue up first, you and all your luggage, to go through a pretty intensive questioning about who you are, where you are going, why, where you have been and so forth. If you are flying to Israel as a visitor they may ask at this point for the address and telephone number of the place you are going, they may ask for names of family members in the country, where they live, their ages. [As Kat just pointed out in the comments, they often will call your hosts to verify] If you are jewish they may ask things like "so what did you read for your bar/bat mitzvah." You may be questioned at this point for anywhere from 5-25 minutes (we're talking you answering questions not length of time waiting while others answer questions). Then you walk forward and your luggage goes through a massive x-raying while you stand and wait for it to come out the other side. They may ask you to unpack it right there.

Only then do you get to proceed to the ticket check-in counter in order to get your boarding pass in order to go through to the gate area. You check your bags here and get your boarding pass. You answer the standard questions here that non-El Al travelers are only asked "Did you pack your luggage yourself?" kind of questions.

Then you go through the x-ray of your handbaggage and of your person again prior to getting to the gate areas. This is standard for all airlines and in all airports, of course.

You are not done with screening yet. At your specific gate you and all your [Ed: carry-on] luggage will again go through a screening before you can get on the airplane. You are again questioned prior to your things being x-rayed. This can, again, take from 5-25 minutes of actual answering questions. I've gone through when I was only "chatted up" --and some of that nice chit chat is meant to see if you answer something suspicious without realizing it --for a couple of minutes and other times where I stood there answering questions ranging from where I went to elementary school and forward for nearly half an hour. Only after this screening do you get on your flight.

***In thwarted terrorist attack United, Continental, American and British Airways flights were targeted. Destinations from U.K to New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles***

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