Passengers at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
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I Know What You Flew Last Summer

Brushing up on tips from the JetBlue-El Al partnership

Stephanie Butnick
August 05, 2011
Passengers at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Last August, after JetBlue announced plans to partner with El Al on connecting flights to and from the U.S. and Israel, New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow-Carroll penned a note with some helpful hints for JetBlue employees.

The letter, which begins, “Welcome to the El Al family—or as we say in Hebrew, Bruchim haba’im!” seeks to familiarize employees with their “new customer base.” Since it’s summer, and people are traveling (unless, you know, you fly private up to visiting day), we thought we’d revisit some of the lessons we learned last summer.

“Security lines: Passengers are instructed to arrive at the airport six hours before a flight. This may seem excessive, but Israel’s crack security service demands it on the theory that no terrorist would be dedicated enough to spend six hours in a crowd of Jews. Kidding! The six-hour time period allows our security team to ask essential questions of our passengers, including ‘Do you have family in Israel? Where do they live? What is the purpose of your visit?’ It also allows time for the person behind you in line to ask the very same questions, in even greater detail. What you might call ‘intrusive rudeness’ is merely what our people call ‘Jewish geography.’”
“Boarding: We board our flights for maximum efficiency, in the following order: Families with young children, families with six or more young children, families with eight or more young children, individuals with physical limitations, individuals with aches and pains that may be something but they won’t know until they see a specialist, individuals who cut in line, and gentiles.”
“Landing: Passengers will often burst into applause when the plane touches down in Israel. This is because a) they are deeply moved by the thought of arriving in the Land of their Ancestors; b) they are still surprised, even after 60 years, that a Jew can safely pilot an airplane; or c) they are relieved that they no longer have to listen to the guy in the middle seat complain about Obama.”

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.