Thursday, February 13, 2014

Isolating Air Travelers to Israel

During the past few years I've been traveling to and from the United States more than once a year to see my elderly parents (and now just my father.)

I've suffered some rather unpleasant treatment by American security, because I cover my hair and wear skirts.  Per trip I generally choose one skirt for flying, and it's amazing how in one airport it's ignored and in others it's a red light for a special security "pat-down."  I've been asked what's under the skirt making it "bulge," and my standard answer is "fat."  Until this past visit, the American airports all insisted that my scarf, no matter how small and tightly tied, was suspicious and performed a special pat-down followed by checking for banned substances, which could theoretically be hidden in it.  I'm not sure if they were checking for drugs or explosives. This time they ignored my head-covering.

The full-body x-ray discovered tiny pieces of paper in my skirt pockets which I pulled out to the satisfaction of the inspectors.   At least I didn't have to repeat the x-ray/body scan.

Each airport has treated me differently and locate the "to Israel gate" differently too. In the Philadelphia Airport the "to Israel gate" was at the very end and screened off.  We needed an additional security check. I think that Newark did it, too.  Once you go through that inspection, you can't wander around the airport.

Four years ago, after my son and I took my father to reunite with my mother in Phoenix, I came back on British Airways via Heathrow, and I don't remember being isolated or anything unusual about that return flight.  But last week when I flew home on the same airline, British Airways, I found myself in a totally closed room/gate to await my flight.

This room looks absolutely nothing like the rest of Heathrow Airport.  There was food to buy from machines, but since I couldn't inspect the packaging I don't know what was kosher.

At least I found it easily by following signs.  I had been panicking about making the connecting flight which was in a very different terminal.  But, Baruch Hashem, thank G-d I found a direct bus to take me from terminal to terminal.

Personally I don't like being shut off in such a small room, because I like to take advantage of the airport for walking around and getting as much exercise as possible before flights.  Too bad they haven't equipped this waiting room with exercise machines and treadmills.  Just a suggestion...


Anonymous said...

Recently returned from visit to Tucson AZ, same Heathrow with slightly nicer chairs now.

I think this may actually be due to legitimate security concerns.

I think all honest people should welcome all the steps which may remove the possible threats from among them.

Batya said...

a, this room is so isolated, if G-d forbid there ever was a security problem nobody would know.

in the vanguard said...

Had you not heard how Phylis Schlafly was abused at the airport security because they caught her with a Jewish Press.

I do believe you are the unwitting victim of deliberate religious persecution - by the TSA!

Nothing do to with "scarves", nothing to do with "bulges"; All it has REALLY to do with is that your Judaism shines in their faces.

Batya said...

All I know is that they're not afraid to bully us. However, this trip was the most pleasant in years.

Rickismom said...

Last time I traveled, I made the mistake of putting my money in a special inner pocket I sewed into my skirt. They treated me nicely, but I had to go into a side room to prove what was there.

Batya said...

rm, the old security measures to safeguard valuables are now considered suspicious. I'd love to make a women's clothing business with vests or jackets with all sorts of secure pockets. You can then just take off the jacket/vest for the body scan.