Sunday, September 22, 2013

TLV Airport and the Dan Lounge

Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport is one of the most secure in the world. In fact, from the moment you park your car, you may go through 6 different security check points of one kind or another.

1. Metal detectors at the entrances.
2. Checked bag x-rays before checking in for your flight.
3. Possibly additional checked bag swabbing for chemicals.

Then you get to wait in line to check in for your flight, get your boarding passes and check your luggage.

4. Standard security screening with metal detectors and x-ray for carry on luggage.
5. Exit Customs to check your passports.
6. Additional screening at the gate just before you board your flight.

In general, my parents like to get to TLV airport 3 hours before the flight departure time, just to be safe in case there's a long line in any one of the security checkpoints mentioned above. In the 9 times my father's flown out of TLV airport, he's only cut it close the very first time. But because he got stuck in line behind a massive Israeli tour group, he did have to sprint through the airport to board his 6:15AM Turkish Airlines flight at the far end of the terminal even after arriving at 3AM, over three hours before departure!

However, all pain you have to go through to get on board does make you feel pretty confident that you're going to be safe on the flight. But if you're like my father, the constant screening and checking can drive your anxiety levels up a bit.

That's why it's nice to decompress a bit after you clear Checkpoint #5 and can make your way over to the Dan Lounge in Corridors B and C.

I won't say it rivals the amazing Turkish Airways lounge in Istanbul (which is comparable to a super luxury hotel lobby), but it does give you a comfortable place to sit for 30 minutes before boarding starts.

When you walk through the entrance, you're "greeted" by a hostile front desk who immediately accuses you of trying to sneak in without proper credentials. "Do you have a pass? Do you have a pass?" (Note, TLV airport is not a great place to respond using any of the following words: "bomb," "terrorist," or "c-nt.")

But if you have either (a) a guest pass (provided by your airline if you're flying business class) or (b) have a lounge club membership (Priority Pass, Lounge Club, United Club, Star Alliance Gold), then they relent and allow you inside to their "beautiful" long hallway of a room filled with over-entitled passengers.

Like most other lounges, the Dan Lounge offers some complimentary refreshments (soft drinks and bottled beer) as well as small snacks (rolls of bread, soups, fruits and cakes).

In addition, we've found the wireless connection to be quite strong and doesn't require an annoying password. We didn't try any Skype phone calls, but web browsing was just fine. If you don't have a laptop or tablet, you can also use one of their two computer stations. But a head's up, the computers are out in the open in the "hallway," so no surfing porn!

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