Originally created 05/17/98

Israeli airliner means business with security



At New York's John F Kennedy Airport before leaving for Israel, my traveling companion and I endured the extended El Al security interview ("You paid for your ticket with a credit card? Then why does the receipt say you paid with a check?"). Our luggage was X-rayed and checked by hand, with the packed shoes receiving a special electronic scanning.

I was curious as to why my film and camera were not examined. Any notion of inquiring about what I regarded as an oversight was later blunted by El Al's Sheryl Stein: "We don't talk about security. We just do it." And ex post facto assurances came from Neil Livingstone, a Washington, D.C., expert on terrorism: "El Al probably has the best security procedures of any airline in the world."

Having been vetted by El Al's agents, we got our boarding passes, I evaded a Lubavitcher outreach team and we watched as the departure area filled to standing room only. If there was fear about Israel, it was not reflected aboard our 747-400. Every seat was taken.