Saturday, December 31, 2005

Quick impression of the "new" LBG terminal

Having just arrived 36 hours earlier, I am now getting my bearings in Tel Aviv. As someone who imagines himself a bit of an air traveller, I must take the time to comment on what was for me the "new" passenger terminal at LBG, or Ben Gurion Airport. Since it has been more than 18 months since my last visit to Israel, I've been looking forward to experiencing the terminal, which was supposed to be ready for the year 2000 pilgrims and travellers -- and in fact opened in November, 2004. As an avid Flight Simulator user, I've flown into LBG many times, and with one of the latest public domain scenery packs, I have even pulled up to the new terminal in virtual space. Now I would get to match up my virtual experience with reality.
We were vectored onto the classic Runway 12 landing pattern, which took us over early morning Tel Aviv (always a welcome sight), and instead of making our way to a parking spot on the tarmac as in the old days, we transited in our Continental triple-7 (a wondeful plane -- even when packed full, even in coach) over to Gate 6 at Terminal 3. Gone are the buses that bring you to the old reception hall -- at the new terminal there are jetways, moving walkways, and an interminable walk to the passport station. The terminal, which was designed to handle a fantastic amount of passengers, is quite open and monumental. The baggage area is fantastically large and clean. I'll miss good old Terminal 1, which became as familiar to me as the MSP airport, but I cannot deny the sense of modernity and convenience which the new terminal projects, almost as if it came out of a recent movie. Parking and ground transportation is state-of-the-art, now including commuter train service to Gush Dan and beyond. All-in-all, the new terminal at LBG gets high marks from this self-styled international traveller.

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