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I noticed that on many occasions there was a separate check-in line for flights to Israel.

The most recent one is right next to me: at CDG there is a line for everyone and a separate check-in for Tel Aviv (both Easy Jet).

What are the reasons for this? (I saw that case at numerous occasions in different countries, and the singled out flight was always to Israel).

I belive that this has something to do with security, but they are not the only country with such issues.

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  • 1
    It’s been a long time, but last time I saw a dedicated check-in area for flights fo Israel they were going through all their bags before check-in. Not sure if the policy applies/applied to all flights go Israel or specifically El Al flights.
    – jcaron
    Jul 19, 2021 at 9:45
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    Note that at least during some time periods, flights to the US were also segregated, with additional questioning before one was allowed go join the queue for check-in. It’s all security-related.
    – jcaron
    Jul 19, 2021 at 9:50
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because it's not a practical travel question.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 19, 2021 at 14:39
  • 23
    This is a perfectly reasonable question not meaningfully different than the hundreds, if not thousands, of questions on the site that start with "Why." Jul 20, 2021 at 2:28
  • 3
    It's not "extra security" but "extra security theater". And the reason it applies to flights to Israel is because Israel says it is mandatory. Many countries (e.g. the USA and Australia) have equally arbitrary (and pointless) mandatory regulations, but they are not so visible as a separate check-in line.
    – alephzero
    Jul 20, 2021 at 11:01

2 Answers 2

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Security.

There have been multiple incidents of flights to Israel bring targeted by terrorists, e.g hijacking, a missile attack and more. Attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets worldwide have occurred in recent years, so it's possible that a place bound for Israel will be targeted again.

All flights to Israel have extra security. This generally involves a gate area being closed off, with screening devices for passengers and their luggage, as well as some extra questioning. They will normally not go over all bags, but a slight concern may prompt this (e.g. luggage was left unattended).

I've seen this on multiple European and American airports.

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  • It doesn't make sense. An airport operator should at minimum guarantee that all passengers in the secure area area safe and don't carry any weapon, irregardless of their destination Jul 20, 2021 at 8:11
  • But, huh, I have to correct myself. I was thinking only about security lanes (my answer covers MXP but I have seen that also at VNO, MAN). Indeed, in European airports one may reach the check-in counter with a weapon because there is no earlier x-ray Jul 20, 2021 at 8:31
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    @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Security measures rarely make sense. Most of them are just theater, pretending they are going to stop something being repeated but ignoring the fact that successful security breaches often involve doing something new for the first time.
    – alephzero
    Jul 20, 2021 at 11:05
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    @alephzero You're forgetting that the point of all such security measures is to reassure passengers that are afraid of flying. They thus tend to address threats that people are the most afraid of. Just by the number of potential casualties,bombing a plane is no more attractive than bombing a train,yet we don't have rigorous security screening on every station. Why? Because people are rarely scared of taking the tube.
    – TooTea
    Jul 21, 2021 at 20:18
  • @TooTea Ah, I see you did not travel by train (or metro) in China ;) I also experienced metal detectors used at Russian train stations but ... not always were the officers interested in actually screening the passengers.
    – Jan
    Jul 23, 2021 at 15:32
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Tell apart Jews/Israeli from Arabs

Because they don't like to meet each other

This was the exact answer by a security scrutiny operator at MXP when I last traveled. Last year I was switching from BGY to MXP Terminal 1 and I noticed that there was a separate security lane for "US and Israel flights only". However: 1) no special machinery was present at those security lanes and 2) the screening area entered the same duty-free zone, and the path to the gates was common. I actually didn't see a full body scanner in MXP yet, those devices are expensive.

I kindly asked one of the guards what is the reason airports often provide separate lanes to Israel, and if extra security is present or not. That person replied like I said above. Americans don't like Arabs, Arabs don't like Jews. There is risk of a fight in the queue.

Worse, there is no separate queue at outbound passport control, so that would only be a matter of schedules.

Of course, that was the answer of an operator to a passenger. Though I want to believe them, it is possible that Israel lanes operate with extra screening but operators won't tell. Makes no sense to me. The screening should be the same for all passengers. Airport operators must make sure that no passenger is carrying weapons or offensive things.

Suppose for a second that an airport has a security lane where chances of bringing a gun in the safe zone are increased. You know what...

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    No offense to the good Americans that make Arab friends ❤ Jul 20, 2021 at 8:26
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    Incorrect. Anyone flying to Israel will be directed to the same check-in regardless of religion or ethnicity
    – asherbret
    Jul 20, 2021 at 10:28
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    Even if there’s no additional “machinery”, that doesn’t prevent additional questioning, and hand searches.
    – jcaron
    Jul 20, 2021 at 11:26
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    Perhaps that's the answer that security officer gave, but it doesn't make any sense. If this was to separate Jews from Arabs, shouldn't be there a separate lane for the 20 percent Arab citizens of Israel? Perhaps that security officer didn't know that they exist (and perhaps you didn't either, @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ)?
    – Schmuddi
    Jul 20, 2021 at 11:57
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    That was clearly a bulls##t off-the-cuff answer from a poorly educated employee. It is absolutely not the real reason.
    – J...
    Jul 20, 2021 at 18:31

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