Monday, May 30, 2016

Tel Aviv 2015

I'm at the airport. My flight leaves in 2 hours, but I got here far too early because everyone says you have to get to the airport early because the security is so strict. It's definitely different, but it didn't take any longer than any other airport.

They have layers of security here rather than just one checkpoint like most airports. A guard talked to the taxi driver before he could even drive in. Another guard looked at my passport and asked me a few questions before I could check in. The questions are simple – where are you from, where are you going, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow – but it's how you answer that matters. These are well trained security personnel and it shows. This is not the TSA.

After a few questions, I was pointed to one of several different lines. I don't know what determines which line everyone goes in, but I was in the fast line. I don't think they want you to know. They like to mix it up around here and keep people on their toes.

Checking in was normal, except that I had a conversation with the woman who gave me my boarding pass. Usually they just stare at their computers and grunt. The biggest difference in Israel is that security personnel talk to everyone.

The fun part was the pressure chamber x-ray machine. You put your bags in and if there's anything explosive inside, the machine detonates it right then & there. No fuss, no muss. No one's bag exploded while I was there. If you don't have anything explosive, it's just like any x-ray machine.

I don't know why all airports don't do this. Well, I do. Money. Those machines can't be cheap. It's cheaper to have a bunch of high school dropouts feel you up and tell everyone to throw their drinks & shampoo away. While Israel has genuine security who talk to every single person in the airport and watch how they respond, the United States tells everyone to take off their shoes and do a bunch of things that don't make anyone safer. The American checkpoints are less secure, more obtrusive and take far longer. Everyone knows it's broken, but fixing it requires a dozen different committees to all agree, and you can't get more than two Americans to agree on anything once it becomes a political topic.

After the last checkpoint, I was in the departure area with too much time on my hands. This airport is a shopping mall, just like every other airport, but the last thing I need is a 2 gallon bottle of duty free perfume. I might get a snack before the flight, but hopefully I'll mostly sleep on the plane.

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