Examinations and interrogations discourage tourists from flying with El Al
Employees of the airline claim that they are able to achieve this through the use of enhanced security measures.
The airline “El Al” (El Al, אל על) was founded on November 15, 1948. Translated from Hebrew, its name means “up.” Despite the laconicism, the slogan “El-Al” sounds loudly: “This is not just airlines. This is Israel! ”Indeed, the history of the carrier has evolved almost since the founding of the state. The harsh security system, which frightens many passengers, was not formed in one day – this was preceded by many negative events related to the political situation in the world and the national identity of the airline.
The process of checking in for a flight at the airport of departure
At all airports from where El-Al planes fly, each passenger will be interviewed by a specially trained airline employee before the flight. That is why passengers are advised to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours before departure.
Psychologists interviewing passengers and armed security guards line up in front of the check-in counters. Passengers are called in turn. Those traveling with a family or company usually come to the same stand together, but if the psychologist doubts the reliability of the passengers, they are bred into different stands and ask the same questions. The easiest way to get interviewed is for families with young children and age couples. Psychologists pay much attention to the type of passenger: expensive clothes and shoes, general grooming are welcome.
El-Al security officials are suspicious of single passengers – especially young unmarried women. Freelancers in any field of activity also cause a negative attitude. An interview with such passengers may take an hour or more. Then one psychologist can replace another and ask old questions in other formulations. If a passenger is caught lying, they are most likely not allowed to fly.
Passengers suspected of unreliability are required to check correspondence in messengers, freelancers can be forced to demonstrate a portfolio or tell in detail about their work. Any hesitation reinforces the suspicion of psychologists. In the end, hand luggage may be taken from a passenger for additional manual inspection in a special room and allowed to take only money, documents and a telephone on board. Hand luggage can be returned immediately before boarding, or can be sent to the luggage compartment if the passenger seemed completely unreliable to security officers.
Classification of passenger reliability at El-Al Airlines
After the interview, a sticker with the letters “H”, “K”, “S”, “T” is attached to the passport, indicating the passenger’s degree of reliability.
Reliability of passengers, according to the security service “El Al”, is distributed approximately as follows:
the most reliable are families with small children, elderly, respectable married couples of middle years and older, kosher Jews in appropriate clothes;
reliable – married young couples, respectable single travelers of middle age, close relatives of Israeli citizens;
conditionally reliable – companies of friends, unmarried couples of solvent type, young single men, young married women traveling without a husband;
unreliable – people of a non-standard appearance, unmarried women from 18 to 30 years old with or without friends, tourists with a recently issued blank passport, one-way ticket, dubious invitation, a large number of marks from Arab countries.
The letters “H” and “K” mark reliable passengers, “S” – conditionally reliable, and those who are marked with the letter “T” have to go through all the circles of hell at the border control, which is the main “chip” of the national airline of Israel. In addition, a seat pre-selected on the website and included in the cost of the flight is not reserved for such passengers – they are put on the very last row.
Gate inspection before boarding
All suspicious passengers after the interview are asked to approach the gate as early as possible. Those who did not arouse suspicion sit in their seats and wait for the boarding to begin, while those marked with the letters “S” and “T” go to another part of the gate and wait for the security officers to give their names. Here the work is carried out by all the same psychologists who had previously spoken with passengers. The search for “conditionally reliable” passengers is limited to the fact that the security guards put all the contents of their hand luggage on the tape and look again.
The “most suspicious” passengers are usually very few – less than five people, and they are the last in line for inspection. When all passengers, including “conditionally reliable” ones, board the plane, those who are unlucky to be marked with the letter “T” are called into a special room for the next inspection — the most thorough one.
Many El-Al passengers complained that they were stripped to their underpants – this is what happens in the inspection room. An extremely suspicious passenger is forced to take off every piece of clothing.