Over the month of August, an estimated 2.3 million passengers have gone through Ben Gurion International Airport, and on Monday, the same airport is anticipating about 80,000 travelers, 40,000 of whom are coming home from their summer vacation. In Israel, as in most European countries, the school year starts September 1 – unlike the US, where schools will start this year the day after Labor Day, on Tuesday, September 6.
Let’s deal for one minute with the figure of 1.15 million Israelis who travel abroad on their summer vacation. It’s roughly 13% of the country’s entire population. The US equivalent would be about 45 million Americans hitting foreign lands in less than one month. Can the world sustain this many Americans?
Ben Gurion Airport is ready, and the biggest hurdle it is facing, according to a News12 report on Monday, is processing suitcases to make sure they reach their owners in a timely and accurate fashion.
I was reminded of a YouTube video that impressed me no end a few years ago, about luggage handling in Dubai Airport, which handles about 7.5 million passengers a month. Take a look:
In recent days, Israel faced several “unusual events” that created congestion entering the country, including, most notably, at the baggage claim stage. Airport officials hope these malfunctions will not be repeated on days when the number of incoming passengers is greater than normal.
On Sunday, major delays were reported in unloading luggage from incoming flights. Ben Gurion Airport management announced: “In the last hour, the unloading of luggage belonging to passengers entering Israel has been delayed.” The delays lasted about an hour and a half, causing enormous congestion in the arrivals hall. You know the scene: thousands of Israelis are crammed into the hall, waiting for their loved ones, who are unable to come out because they’re stuck around the luggage rotunda. Meanwhile, planes continue to land, passengers continue to rush out, waiting for their suitcases. It’s why NASA at one point considered including a landing at Ben Gurion as part of its astronaut training program.
According to 12News, Sunday’s “unusual” delays were caused by the ground crews’ slowdown in protest of being supervised and ticketed following an accident last weekend, which they claimed was slowing down the works.
Ben Gurion Airport features a section for luggage whose owners have given up hope of ever finding and ditched it behind, eager to get home, take a shower, and call work to find out if they were still employed. According to some airport officials, some of these suitcases wait for their owners for weeks. They are mostly suitcases that were boarded in foreign airports after their owners had left on different flights.
By the way, making connections continues to lead on the list of anxiety-causing flying-related issues. Also: starting September 1, Ben Gurion Airport will curtail significantly the number of its employees until the high holidays.
What do you need luggage for anyway?