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.
Unfortunately, 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.
If 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.