Newark airport: cozy, boring, and with extra security for Israel

September 1, 2023 • 1:13 pm

The Newark Airport (at least the United section) is clean and comfortable, with plenty of electrical plugs and tables to sit, but there’s a dearth of places to get food, and noms are thin on the ground and expensive. Anticipating that I’ll get dinner on the plane, I had only a meager slice of pizza, far inferior to the “slices” across the harbor in Manhattan.

Here’s a panorama of one gate, which is very different from any airport gates I’ve seen before. There are more seats at the many tables than along the walls, and tons of electrical outlets. Q

The gate above is the next gate over from the one where we’re to wait for the plane to Tel Aviv.  We were just kicked out of that gate so they could ring it with barriers and put up this sign:

I haven’t yet faced the “additional security screening”, but it looks as if I’d better micturate before I get screened!

I’m screened now.  It’s done on two sides of a room. One one you deposit your luggage, which gets inspected and wiped down with the help of a “sniffer machine,” presumably to detect explosives. Then while your luggage is being sniffed, you cross the room (below) to get a thorough inspection with a wand. But no groping!  I passed!

I wondered if we’d face extra security going to Israel, and it’s starting here. I’m especially curious about how thoroughly we’ll be grilled when we arrive in the country.

El Al, Israel’s national airline, is famous for successfully screening dangerous passengers (as far as I know, the airline, despite being a juicy target for terrorists, has been hijacked only once: in 1968).  But I’m flying on United.

26 thoughts on “Newark airport: cozy, boring, and with extra security for Israel

  1. That airport, if your photos are any example is much better than it use to be in the 80s and 90s. If it was monty python they would have a line for suicide bombers. Just joking.

  2. El Al, Israel’s national airline, is famous for successfully screening dangerous passengers (as far as I know, the airline, despite being a juicy target for terrorists, has been hijacked only once: in 1968). But I’m flying on United.

    Don’t you worry, Jerry. You get highjacked on United, we’ll form a group of commenter-commandos and come rescue you Operation Entebbe-style.

    1. Famously, the Entebbe raid was led by unit commander Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, older brother of the current prime minister. He was the only Israeli to be killed during the action.

  3. The security at Tel Aviv airport, to get on the plane leaving Israel, was incredible. Before leaving Jerusalem for the airport, I had thrown out everything I thought I would no longer need, but in the airport, I could not prove to the satisfaction of the security people that my trip to Israel was legitimate. I told them that I had given two lectures, but anyone can say that. Fortunately I had kept as a souvenir a poster announcing one of my lectures, and they accepted that as indicating that I had been a legitimate visitor.

    1. At an airport where hundreds of the public walk by and go thru. I don’t think so. Now if you were at a military airport….who knows.

  4. If your experience is anything like mine, the arrival is very easy! It’s just a machine with a camera that scans your passport while taking a picture of your face. It then prints out a little blue paper card that you have to show a security person on the way through to baggage claim. Hope your flight passes quickly and that you enjoy your time in Israel!

  5. There was a post here, I think within the past month, to a very good essay summarizing all the points for Israel in Israel v Palestine, but I don’t seem to be able to find it looking in the expected categories, and I can’t remember the author.

  6. As I said earlier, I am sorry you were stick in Newark. It is clean, but culturally and gastronomically impoverished. Such a pity, given that some of the best Iberian cuisine is available not 1km away, a few minutes walk from the free people-mover (monorail) at the south end. (I had the pleasure of being treated, along with a client rep, to a wonderful late lunch last week by my boss at the engineering job… Chourico c/ camarao (pork sausage w/shrimp, flamed with high proof liquor), Frango de Picadinho (chicken and pork with shrimp and sausage bits, in a stew), Arroz e feijao, and a few other things I can’t recall. Delectable. I didn;t eat for the next two days. End of full time for the year for me- back to teaching-, and he likes to put me in front of clients)

    Enjoy the trip, and color me green w/ envy, as I would like to be able to visit Israel at some point and meet the family of one of my mentours.

  7. El Al doesn’t just have to find dangerous passengers. Anne-Marie Murphy wasn’t dangerous, but the man she thought was her fiancé had given her a suitcase with a false bottom with a bomb underneath. She had no idea. She and the case got through regular security at Heathrow. And of course she had none of the signs of nervousness that a terrorist trying to board a plane might have. One or two of her answers to the questions by an El Al security man were just slightly off. The good security guy didn’t have something specific he was looking for, but emptied Murphy’s suitcase and thought it was too heavy for an empty bag. Lots of lives were saved.

  8. According to Flight Aware, i think our boy is on ua 84 at 35,000 ft heading east to tel aviv at over 600mph. He may have picked up a tailwind off the ridge that steered our recent hurricanes out to sea. Non-stop flight time is about 10.5 hours having left Newark at 4:28 this afternoon, will arrive at ben gurian mid morning israeli time. So at some point when we are (hopefully) asleep here on the east coast U.S., PCC(E) should post an “I have landed” on WEIT.

    1. The jet lag alone would keep me on this continent. I once flew to Europe and Asia, mostly on business trips and the lag would always get me.

      1. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I hardly noticed jet lag, even crossing eight time zones, but these days, I find I need melatonin tablets to help re-adjust. Here in Britain, they are prescription-only, so I buy a bottle of them over-the-counter at a pharmacy in the U.S.

  9. Security going to Ireland from the UK used to be strange. Or maybe it was the other way around, but my memory is that I went out of Gatwick, where we first congregated for the flight at the end of the terminal and were then herded into what might have once been a big storage room. Then out the door and into a bus. Before leaving, the doors were sealed with zip-ties that had matching numbers. IIRC the bus went only a short distance to the plane, but before unsealing the doors, the numbers were first checked to make sure they matched.

    And then I think it was on the return, I had to show the boarding pass from the plane that I had just gotten off of(!) to get into the terminal.

    Anyone else remember that? This must’ve been back in the early 90s.

    1. I flew from Heathrow to Dublin a couple of times in the early 1990s and don’t recall any security precautions like that. I also once flew to Belfast from Liverpool, circa 1989, and I do remember the tight security at Belfast airport on my homeward journey. That was when the IRA was still killing innocent civilians, both in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

  10. Wait until you leave Israel. The outgoing security process has a reputation for being the most intense and through in the world. Multiple interviews to try an find ANY anomaly in your answers after which they will drill down further… Makes security anywhere else look like the theater that it mostly is. The Israelis are second none and they have a prefect track record since 1968 to prove it.

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