Flights to Israel

Israel is connected to the rest of the world by international carriers and low-cost charter airlines. Due to corona travel restrictions, there are fewer incoming flights, and airport procedures have changed, to include COVID testing. Israel is on the green list of destinations where vaccinated passengers can travel, and every day more airlines are resuming their flight routes to the Holy Land.

International airlines that have already resumed flights to Israel include United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines, regularly connecting the US to Israel. Other carriers that fly to Israel include Ethiopian Airlines, Aegean Airlines, Air Europa, Air Canada, France, Air, Emirates, Iberia, TAP, Brussels Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Australian Airlines, Air Baltic, Belavia, British Airways, Turkish Air, Lufthansa, and Swiss Air, Ukraine Airlines, Gulf Air, Alitalia, Virgin, and Cyprus Airways. Low-cost airlines that fly to Israel include Wizz Air, Ryan Air, EasyJet, FlyDubai, and Pegasus Airlines.

El Al is Israel’s national carrier, they have high security, kosher in-flight meals and they don’t fly on Shabbat. Arkia Airlines and Israir are smaller Israeli airlines with limited international flights and domestic flights connecting Tel Aviv to Eilat. Almost all international flights to Israel land at Ben Gurion International Airport, a modern facility just outside Tel Aviv. Some international flights land at Ramon Airport near Eilat in southern Israel. Keep updated about changes in flights to Israel.


What Can You Do on a Layover at Ben Gurion Airport?

If you have a layover in Ben Gurion Airport and your connecting flight leaves in less than 4 hours then it is probably best to stay in the airport and make the most of the facilities that Ben Gurion offers. If you have more than 4 hours then you could possibly venture out of the airport and visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and even the Dead Sea.Ben Gurion has two terminals – Terminal 3 for international flights and Terminal 1 for domestic and low-cost international flights. When calculating how much time you have remembered that Israel has stricter security than other countries and you may need to get to the airport 2-3 hours before your connecting flight takes off.Staying in the Airport during Your LayoverIf you have no choice but to stay in the airport between flights then you will find that Ben Gurion has all the expected airport facilities like a first aid station, ATMs, a police service, synagogue, pharmacy, baby changing facilities, smoking areas and currency exchange. You will also find shops and restaurants.InternetThere is free WiFi in all of Ben Gurion’s passenger halls so it shouldn’t be a problem for you to connect up and spend your waiting time online. If you have any problems connecting try calling Netvision, the service provider at Ben Gurion on 1-800-013-013. There are free recharging stations throughout the airport including domestic and international departure halls.SleepingUnfortunately, there is no sleeping area or hotel within the terminals; it is also a busy airport so you may have trouble finding a quiet place to have a nap. Try going to the departure hall near the food court where there are benches and you may be able to get some shut eye. If you don’t mind the noise the food court is also a good place to sleep.PlayingIf traveling with kids you’ll find play areas in each of the long passages leading off from the Departure Hall.VIP LoungesThe Dan Hotel chain operates the Arbel (T3) and Masada (T1) VIP Lounges in the airport. Use of their services must be pre-arranged and requires a fee. The lounges are used by both arriving and departing passengers. As part of their service, you would be picked up on arrival at Ben Gurion and taken in a special VIP shuttle to the lounge.Massada LoungeAt this luxurious lounge, travelers can get VIP treatment including all their passport, customs, security and VAT refund services. In addition, you can go here on a layover and simply relax. Available (and included in the fee) are light meals beverages and resting areas. You will even get special transportation to your connecting flight when it is time to leave. This service needs to be pre-booked and requires a fee. For more information contact your airline or ground handling company or the Dan Lounges at Ben Gurion. You can call the lounge at 03-9712266. Note that even economy class passengers can buy a special pass to use the Dan VIP lounges; just go to one of the lounges and ask or book 24 hours ahead online for about 150 ILS.Passengers traveling in business or first class on El Al can make use of the EL AL passenger lounge in the departure hall duty-free area. For more information call 03-977111.Feedback StationsIf you have had a particularly bad (or good) experience at Ben Gurion then you might want to leave some feedback at one of the computerized feedback stations which are in all the terminal halls.Leaving Ben Gurion during Your LayoverIf you are from a country like America, Canada or the UK where you don’t need a visa to visit Israel then you will have no problem leaving the airport for a short layover tour. Check with your embassy whether you would need to make any special visa arrangements in order to leave Ben Gurion airport during your layover. And don’t worry about having an Israeli stamp in your passport as records are now kept electronically and you will instead get a piece of paper with the entrance stamp. Keep the piece of paper in your passport until you leave, after which you can throw it away.In the Greeters Hall on Level G next to the employee passage you will find a desk responsible for issuance of special entry permits. They are open Sunday to Thursday 8:30 am-1:30pm and Friday and holiday eves 9 am-1 pm. To contact them by phone you can call 03-9752265.If you have questions about how to spend your time in Israel you could go to the Ministry of Tourism Information Desk in the Arrival Hall. The staff here will provide you with maps and information. You can also contact them on 03-9754260.If you have luggage which is not checked-in to go directly to your final destination then you can leave it at the Baggage Storage Facility which is open Sunday to Thursday 8 am-7:45 pm; Friday 8 am 2:45 pm and Saturday from 8pm until midnight. The Storage Room is located in the west (kerem) short-term car park called “Orchard Parking” on the ground floor (Level G). The storage facilities may change so call for more information to 03-9754436. The service is free of charge.Getting Out of Ben GurionBen Gurion is located in the middle of the country about 40 km (35-50min) from Jerusalem and 15km (20-40min) from Tel Aviv. If arriving on Friday evening or Saturday your transport options will be limited as public buses and trains have limited or no service on Sabbath. However, you still have rental cars and taxis.Taking a Taxi from Ben GurionThe official taxi dispatcher post is located in front of Terminal 3 on Level G near the Gate 1 exit. There is also a desk in the Meeters and Greeters Hall near Gate 3 next to the Information Desk where you can verify the correct taxi fare to a particular location. At the desk staff will write down for you the correct fare and with this, you can approach the taxi dispatcher post. However generally you have nothing to worry about when taking a taxi from the official taxi dispatcher post as all the taxis and taxi drivers are authorized.Buses from Ben Gurion AirportTake Egged line 5 or Veolia line 239 from Level 2 of Terminal 3 and from Terminal 1 to the El Al Junction where you can catch a bus to many cities in the country including Jerusalem. Unless you have a long layover it is not recommended to try seeing the country by public bus with limited time. Rather take a train, taxi or organized tour.Trains from Ben GurionThe airport train station is on the lower level of Terminal 3 but there is a free airport shuttle connecting Terminal 1 and 3. Trains operate to Tel Aviv throughout the day and night but with more regular departures during peak travel hours (there are trains every 30-60 minutes depending on the time of day) and reduced service on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Trains to Jerusalem take about 2 hours and operate between about 6 am and 7 pm. This is not recommended if you have limited time.Organized Private Layover ToursPerhaps the most convenient and time efficient use of your layover in Ben Gurion is to take an organized daily tours. Tours can be arranged which pick you up at the airport; take you to the landmarks which most interest you and then return you in time to check-in to your connecting flight. There are private one day tours to Jerusalem; Bethlehem; Dead Sea; Masada; Nazareth; Haifa; Acre; Sea of Galilee and Caesarea as well as more off-the-beaten-path destinations like the caves of Beit Gurvrin and dessert safaris. As it is a private tour you can tailor make the tour to suit how much time you have on your layover, your personal interests and the people traveling with you.
By Petal Mashraki

What is the Best Way to Get from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv?

Lucky for visitors to Israel the international Ben Gurion Airport is relatively close to Tel Aviv and there are multiple transportation options to take you from the airport right into the city center. Take into account that public transport in Israel is limited (and in some cases non-existent) on Shabbat (from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown).Private Transfers from Tel Aviv Airport If you want to avoid high taxi prices and the pitfalls of public transportation then your best option is a private transfer from Ben Gurion. Private transfers from Tel Aviv airport are definitely the most convenient and fastest way to travel. You can book a private transfer from Tel Aviv airport online. A driver will be waiting for you at Ben Gurion where he will be holding a sign bearing your name as you enter the airport arrivals hall. Once you have met your driver he will help you with your luggage to the waiting car and take you straight to the doorstep of your Tel Aviv hotel.The advantages of private transfers from Tel Aviv airport are that you don’t have to go looking for a taxi; you don’t have to wait in a queue; private transfers operate on all days of the week including Shabbat; the price is prepaid so no haggling or need for cash in hand; no need for multiple transfers (from train to taxi or bus to bus) and you have the peace of mind knowing that your arrival transport is arranged and will go smoothly. Private transfers from Tel Aviv airport can also be arranged to other destinations in Israel including Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Herzliya.Train from Ben Gurion to Tel AvivThe Ben Gurion train station is immediately outside Ben Gurion’s Terminal 3 lower level and you can buy your train ticket from a machine or ticket booth alongside the platform. Taking a train from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv is, in theory, a low-cost and fast option. However, the Tel Aviv train stations are not centrally located and you will have to take a bus or taxi from the station to your hotel. Israeli trains do not operate on Shabbat (from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) but are otherwise operational 24/7. From 6 am to 11 pm there are two trains an hour from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv’s four stations and from 11 pm to 6 am there is one train an hour which stops only at Tel Aviv’s Arlozorov Station. The journey takes about 20 minutes but adds to that travel time from the station to your hotel.Bus from Ben Gurion to Tel AvivEgged Bus Company operates buses from Ben Gurion Airport and although they are an economical option most travelers will not enjoy navigating the Israeli bus system as they step off the plane! Egged line #5 operates between Ben Gurion’s three terminals and Airport City (a commercial development 5km from Ben Gurion) from there you will need to take a connecting bus into Tel Aviv. Other bus companies operate similar services. Regular buses do not enter the airport area and have limited or no routes from Friday afternoon to Saturday sundown and on national holidays.Taxi from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel AvivTaxis operate 24/7 from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv and other destinations. The price of a taxi varies according to the time of day (it is more expensive at night and on Shabbat). You will also pay more depending on the number of passengers and the number of pieces of luggage. Although there are measures in place to monitor taxi drivers and the fees they charge it is not unheard of for Israeli taxi drivers to overcharge travelers from Ben Gurion. Follow the signs from the arrivals hall to the taxi queue where you can wait your turn for a taxi. Be sure to ask the price before getting into the taxi.
By Petal Mashraki
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