Confessions of a Traveler

October 1, 2010 at 06:24 1 comment

Bitte Hammargren, the Middle East expert at Svenska Dagbladet wrote a column recently where she reflected on the fact that Israel, arguably the most flight security conscious country in the world, has such an apparently cavalier attitude to passengers bringing fluids onto planes departing from Ben-Gurion international airport.

I have a similar experience, and – after having flown extensively back and forth all over Europe this summer – I must say that Ben-Gurion has the absolutely best and most efficient security checks of all the airports I’ve ever been to, leaving Rhodes, Ataturk, Kastrup and Barajas far behind. Copenhagen’s airport Kastrup stands out with its especially inefficient and painfully slow security check.

The key to the expedient security procedures at Ben-Gurion is the interview that all passengers are put through before they’re even allowed to check in. Once they pass the eye of that needle, the mechanical check of luggage and pockets is fairly painless – the logic being that if you’ve been let through to that stage you’re probably mostly harmless.

I know that the interview can be far from a breezy formality. Anyone who can be suspected of harboring ill will, and particularly a will to blow a plane up, are given the third degree by the security staff. Israelis usually are unaware of this annoying routine – unless they happen to be Israeli Arabs – because Israeli passport holders get through fairly quickly. Single European males are also regarded with suspicion, and before I got my Israeli passport I was usually held up for a ten to fifteen minute chat at this point when leaving Israel.

Since I did quite a lot of travelling to and from Israel in the decade or so before I settled here permanently, I developed a keen sense for what kind of answers would shorten the interview.

In the end, the temptation to lie to get past this hurdle quicker turned out to be too big for me.

At first I only lied a little bit to expedite matters, but soon enough it turned into a sport. I would make up long and intricate stories that I would feed the girls (why are they always girls, by the way?) who interviewed me. I know that this is an extremely risky business, and if I had been caught lying it would have reduced my time in the tax free shops considerably. Nonetheless, I always got away with it, and at the end I don’t think I ever spent more than a minute or two being grilled.

Thankfully, I don’t need to employ that kind of tactics anymore.


Entry filed under: Life.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Einat  |  October 1, 2010 at 14:42

    so basically getting an Israeli passport is worth it just for the shorter check up times. especially if you get to keep your European one and thus need 2 minutes while entering your European destination, instead of waiting for ages with your fellow Israelis. good deal!

    and at least you can stop lying…


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