General info about your flights, arrival, and travel

International Flights:

Most airlines recommend that you check in for your flight three hours prior to the scheduled departure time. When I was traveling to and from the Philippines, I got at the airport four hours before departure time. Better to wait at the airport than miss the flight. Besides if everyone is getting at the airport three hours before departure, it would stand to reason if you got there early you will miss the crowd. You must personally check your luggage at the airline counter. You may be traveling independently for all flights until your arrival at your final destination.

Health Precautions:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are no required vaccinations for traveling to Israel, they do however recommend that all of your normal vaccinations be up to date. Although not required, for most travelers, the CDC recommends the Hepatitis A vaccination “CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza, regardless of where you are eating or staying.”

Travel Advisories:

US State Department Travel Advisories: For up to date US State Department travel advisories you may visit: http://travel.state.gov/travel

Screening & Security When Traveling to Israel:

Israeli airport security is considered to be higher than almost anywhere else in the world. You shouldn’t let it scare you though, the purpose of the high security is to protect you as a passenger, and as a result Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv is considered the world’s most secure airport.

When departing Israel, Tel Aviv Airport is known world-wide for its impressive level of security, however, this can often leave to hefty queues on departure and airlines request passengers to arrive 3 hours before departure.

Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv is recognized as one of the most secure airports in the world. Due to the high level of security, operating on many levels, some of which are out in the open and others which are very discreetly hidden, it is no wonder the Tel Aviv airport is known for its long security queues and wait times for passengers. Travelers are always advised to leave ample time, from bag screening, questioning and various other security stops.

Click here for the website of what to expect when arriving in Israel. 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.

Questioning

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.

Technology

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.

If we learn from people that have been there before, two of the statements stick out in my mind
“It was then I was really glad I got to the airport early. ” and “Israeli security is thorough and slow, very slow, but they are polite and professional and certainly nothing to be afraid.”

I could give the whole process, but just know the process will take a while and you should follow all directions given by the security personnel. The entire process will take from 45-60 minutes or more. If you beep at the metal detector it will take even longer. Make sure you have removed all of your metal, even the smallest earring will set it off.

Luggage:

Some international airlines have different size, pound and piece restrictions based on fare class and travel zones. Overall, the average weight and size for checked bags is 50 pounds and 62 inches. Average maximum size for carry-on luggage is 45 inches. Luggage is always measured by adding length, width and height, including handles and wheels. Keep in mind the carry-on luggage will also be used when traveling by bus on the daily outings.

Just as a rule of thumb, you should carry all documents (passports and border control cards) and money on your person. Do not put these in your luggage. A money belt is highly recommended or at least a passport wallet.

Luggage Locks:

The more secure your personal items are, the better! TSA suggests you lock your luggage before you embark, and when you are flying home. In order to ensure the safe transportation of travelers, TSA screens all checked, and carry-on, baggage before it is permitted to be brought onboard. You can purchase locks for your bags, however, if they are “screened”, you run the risk of them being cut open and no longer usable. However, there are TSA Recognized Locks – which allow TSA officials to use tools for opening and re-locking your baggage. Below are recommended brands:

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