Israeli Airport Security is famously, notoriously – and understandably – stringent, with Ben Gurion airport considered to be the world’s safest airport as a result. With thousands of passengers coming in and out of the country every day, they employ a whole range of technological and individual screening techniques to make sure that they check everyone going through. While this can be a hassle, there’s no way to avoid it, so it’s best to know and be prepared for what’s about to happen.
Ben Gurion Airport. Image hoyasmeg
On your way into Israel, you will be asked repeatedly why you are traveling and whom you know in the country. You could try and have answers ready for this: if you have hosts in Israel, make sure you know their name and have their contact details (they might be called to validate this information). If you will be staying in a hotel, have the reservation details, and think of an answer for why you’re going (“just to travel around” isn’t a terrible answer, if it’s the truth, but will probably lead to many more questions). On the whole, if you have family or friends in Israel this process is a lot easier, and if you’re traveling on your own, you might be more thoroughly questioned.
The main thing to remember is not to stress about this whole process: nothing is personal, it’s just their job and the security is for the better. You should tell the truth, remain relaxed and really treat it no differently to if you were in any other country – most people have absolutely no problem, and even if you do get asked questions it doesn’t mean that you are a suspect or anything bad! Stay calm, remember you have nothing to hide, and treat it like an experience.
On the way out of Israel, you might be asked what you did in the country. Again, stay calm, and tell the truth (you haven’t done anything wrong!). You should arrive at the airport at least three hours before your flight.
The whole airport security process in Israel has become a little bit quicker and easier recently, since Ben Gurion Airport installed an advanced luggage screening machine known as HBS. While details of exactly what the machine does are secret, passengers have reported that lines seem to be moving faster. This does mean, however, that you should make sure you arrive at the airport early. You will also have to go through the normal body checks. Having a separate clear plastic bag with all your electronics and chargers can make the process move much smoother.
How long will it take?
The security queues at Ben Gurion Airport vary in duration as the airport operates with peak and quiet hours. All passengers are advised to arrive three hours before departure. Should you be concerned about long queue times, consider opting for the VIP Services at Ben Gurion Airport which allow you to skip most queues and transfer through the airport extra-fast.