My experience of flying with EL AL the flag carrier airline of Israel has been the worst I have ever experienced in my life. I'm a Pakistani origin German with an Arabic Muslim name. In this blog, you will read my personal experience of flying with EL AL with one of my friends.
I live near Frankfurt and Frankfurt International Airport is only a few kilometres away from my home. From Frankfurt, only Lufthansa and EL AL have direct flights to Tel Aviv and we wanted to avoid wasting a lot of time by taking connecting flights. Flights with Lufthansa were more than double the price of EL AL so we decided to save some money and booked EL AL.
We checked in online and had only a small carry on bag so we went directly to the check-in counter almost 90 minutes before the flight but to our surprise, people were already going through the check-in process. When we reached the counter, we gave the lady our passports and boarding cards, she pointed us straight to the security.
The security officers took our passports and asked some questions
We answered every question truthfully and confidently, the officers told us to wait. After 15 minutes the security officers informed us that we can fly but we are not allowed to take any hand luggage with us apart from a mobile phone and our wallet. I told the officers that we didn't know that Muslims are not allowed to take any hand luggage so I bought a backpack which has all my camera equipment and I'm afraid it might break so kindly at least allow me to take my camera equipment with me. But they told us it's not possible so we gave them our backpacks and waited for further security checks.
I have already been to over 65 countries and never in my life, I had to go through such security checks. We were told to take off shirts, jackets and shoes which we did and while scanning my jeans, the metal button of jeans made noise so I was told to take off my jeans as well so I was literally standing half-naked in my underpants. They scanned all of my clothes and if I remember correctly my shoes were scanned at least 6 or 7 times from different angles. They also went through my wallet and took out every piece of paper to inspect.
The whole process took more than an hour to complete. It wasn't an easy situation for us especially after the security checks, we could see we were the only two persons on the whole flight who were not allowed to carry hand luggage. I can't understand after such extensive security checks why we were still not allowed to carry our cameras with us.
The Airline security allowed us to fly and after going through the long immigration process (you can read about it here) when we got our luggage back to my surprise the Airline security has gone through my backpack without asking my permission. They didn't even bother to pack everything back into the backpack properly. They dismounted my camera from its lens and placed back the camera into the backpack without mounting it back. Moreover, I couldn't find my sunglasses which were inside my backpack and upon contacting the Airline they refused to accept their responsibility.