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23 Aug 2006

ISRAEL: There ain't no bombs on us!

These Israelis are gosh-darn serious about airport security. Woah. And I thought the Americans were crazy with their shoe fetish!

Here's how it went down for me:

I arrive, go to section 'B' which is where the Air Canada check-in counter is. I wait, then at the front of the line (no where near the ticket counter yet, btw) a nice lady looks at my passport and starts to ask me questions about what I was doing here, where I stayed, with whom, etc. And she doesn't just glance at my passport like I'm used to, she REALLY looked and compared me to my photo and asked me my name several times.

She doesn't so much believe me, so another fellow comes over and asks me the same questions again. I said the same things "Business, CopperGate, Iris, 9 days..." - then she asks me for a letter from the company I was with here. I don't have one, so there are some more questions. Finally I show them the receipt from the hotel, and its all cool. She puts purple stickers on my bags and passport.

Then, all my luggage is X-Rayed, with laptop out of the bag, of course.

Since I am questionable, I go to secondary luggage checking. Standing in another line, then the lady goes through my bags. Surprisingly, she wasn't interested in all the electronics I have with me, but she wanded all my Dead Sea mud I brought back. They were also very keen on making sure the CD that Boaz gave me was not a bomb. Also they swipe everything (thoroughly) for explosives residue.

Then, after all my luggage had been gone through (although only half of my things were on the counter for all to see, thankfully I put my dirty clothes at the bottom and they stayed in), it was time to get a boarding pass.

Another line (this one surprisingly slow, but I chatted with a nice Toronto lady), and again they look at my passport (purple sticker) and ask me more questions. My lack of green card caused a ruckus, and I had to stand to the side for a while. I was expecting to have to explain NAFTA and the TN visa, but a lady came by a few minutes later and gave me my boarding passes without a hassle. Since I have this hiking backpack with me instead of a suitcase, I had to go to a freight elevator to put the odd-size luggage there.

I go towards the elevator, and again they check my passport, and a security lady walks me to the elevator.

The security man at the elevator checks my passport again (although the purple sticker did it for him, that's all he cared about). Ok, then I was in the pre-security area! W00t! I had breakfast.

Then, you go through security. HAH!

This is more like security I am used to on domestic flights, except more thorough. My passport and boarding pass are checked. My laptop out of the bag and X-rayed, purse through xray. Me through metal detector. My carry-on bags (purse, laptop) and my shoes are swiped again VERY thoroughly for explosive residue. They really take their time and don't rush.

Then for passport control they stamp something - I didn't actually say one word to that lady.

That's it. Very lax, and you can see. I was going to buy some wine at the duty free, but there's a sign saying "All US Flights blah blah we'll throw out your wine...blah" so I abandoned the dream.

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