Landing in Tel Aviv for business or pleasure? You will need to know Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV). Consider this your guide to Ben Gurion airport.
Are you making a trip to Israel soon? If so, chances are you’re going to be spending some time in the Ben Gurion Airport.
For those who don’t know, Ben Gurion Airport is the main international airport in Israel. It’s named after the first prime minister of Israel, and it’s considered one of the safest airports in the world.
But, seeing as its the country’s main international airport, it’s also quite big. This means that before you head to Ben Gurion for the first time, there are some things you need to know about navigating it.
Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about Ben Gurion Airport.
Let’s start with some quick facts that you’ll want to know about Ben Gurion airport:
- The airport is located about 15 km (or 9 miles) from the city center
- The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel
- There are three languages spoken at the airport by employees- English, Arabic, and Hebrew
- Free Wifi is available throughout the airport
- The airport offers 24/7 access to duty-free shopping
- The airport has two terminals, Terminal 2 and 3 (yes, they skip terminal 1)
- The airport is often commonly referred to as the Tel Aviv Airport
- Most international flights depart from and land at terminal 3
Getting to and From the Ben Gurion Airport
Now that you know these quick facts, let’s talk about the most important information you need to know: how to get to and from the airport.
Taking the Train
You can take the train both to and from Ben Gurion Airport. If you’re leaving for the airport from the city center, the journey by train will take around 12 minutes, with the price being $3.60.
If you plan to travel by train to or from the airport, don’t forget to keep your ticket until the end of your journey. The terminal exits are electronic, and without a ticket, you’ll have to pay an extra fee to exit.
Also, keep in mind that trains only run until midnight.
If you’re taking the train from the airport and into the city, then you can buy your ticket from a ticket machine at the entrance of the station. For peace of mind, you can also buy your ticket online.
Also, keep in mind that due to Shabbat (Sabbath), the train runs on shorter timetables on the weekends. From Friday, the train goes from 3:36 pm, and from Saturday, it goes from 8:28 pm.
Taking the Bus
The bus is another affordable option that’s worth considering. Again, you can take the bus both to and from Ben Gurion Airport. The trip costs $8 and lasts for around 30 minutes. However, you may have to wait anywhere from 30-60 minutes to catch a bus.
The bus line you take will depend on where you’re going to in Tel Aviv or where you’re coming from, so be sure to look up that information beforehand.
The Tel Aviv Airport also offers shuttles for those who don’t want to bother with figuring out the train or the bus.
You can pre-arrange your transport by shuttle, or you can book it from the airport.
To take the shuttle, you’ll want to head to Terminal 3 and wait between exits 21 and 23. From here, you’ll take shuttle number 5. This shuttle will take you to the Airport City Station. Here, you’ll get off and either hop on a bus or taxi to reach your final destination.
There are always a large number of taxis waiting at the airport. The wait for a taxi is usually no more than 5 minutes.
In general, a taxi ride to the city center will cost $62.
While all these options are great, you may want transportation that offers more comfort and luxury. For this, you can hire a chauffeur to pick you up at the airport.
Arriving at the Airport
Arriving at a new airport always feels a bit overwhelming, and the Tel Aviv Airport is no exception.
When arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, you should be ready to answer questions about your past travels, regardless of when they were. You’ll also be asked questions about your reasons for visiting Israel, where you plan to stay, and how long you plan to stay for.
Don’t worry if the questions get repetitive, just remember to stay calm and be polite. The same thing goes for if you get pulled aside for additional questioning.
Also, to speed things along and eliminate any suspicions about your travels, you should bring along copies of your hotel reservations, excursion reservations, and plans for onward travel. The more information you can provide about your stay, the less questioning you’ll receive.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that Israel no longer gives passport stamps. This can be good news for those who are looking to travel in other countries in the Middle East.
While the passport experience is generally easy, people have experienced problems.
To ensure you don’t experience any problems with passport control and that you move through the line quickly, it can be a good idea to book a VIP airport services.
With these services, you’ll have an agent pick you up at your gate and then drive you to passport control. Your agent can also help you with your bags and assist you with customs.
When leaving Israel, there are often security checkpoints on the highway on the way to the airport.
During these checkpoints, all vehicles need to go through inspection to make sure you aren’t carrying any contraband materials. However, this inspection usually only takes a couple of minutes.
When you enter the airport, you’ll encounter your first checkpoint. This occurs even before you go to your ticket counter. For security purposes, you’ll be interviewed by a customs guard (even Israeli citizens are interviewed).
If you’ve recently traveled in Jordan or Egypt, you’ll likely have to answer some additional questions.
How long the first checkpoint takes will depend on a number of different variables, so be sure to allow enough time for this checkpoint.
At the end of the interview, the guard will place a white barcode sticker on your bag. Don’t remove this sticker, as you’ll definitely need it later on.
After the first checkpoint, you’ll head to the ticket counter to check-in for your flight.
After this, you’ll head to checkpoint two. Here you’ll need to scan your white sticker so you can get through the security gates. Then, you’ll go through the standard metal detectors and x-rays for your bags.
Interesting to note, you don’t need to take your shoes off at Ben Gurion Airport. And, there are no liquid restrictions. Water bottles, shampoo bottles, and other liquid containers are all fine.
Right after this, you’ll go through passport control. The system at Ben Gurion Airport is now automated, so now all you have to do is scan your passport picture.
Then finally, you’re done with all of the lines!
Other Things Worth Noting
While that’s the majority of the information you need to know about Ben Gurion Airport, there are a few other things worth noting. These include:
Sleeping overnight as the airport is quite common, however; it isn’t exactly comfortable. Remember, this is an extremely busy airport, so it can be difficult to find a spot that offers peace and quiet.
Most travelers recommend sleeping in the departure hall near the food court and security check. You should come prepared with eye masks and earplugs.
If sleeping there doesn’t appeal to you, there are a number of hotels near the airport. The main ones are the Sadot Hotel, the Avia Hotel and Resort, and the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel and Suites.
As we mentioned earlier, free Wifi is available throughout the airport. All you have to do is connect to the Netvision network.
Services and Things to Do
The services at Ben Gurion airport include:
- Banking services
- Currency exchange
- Mobile charging stations
- Medical services
- Luggage storage and lockers
- Baggage trolleys
- Information desk
- Tourist information
- Travel agencies
- Baby changing stations
- Smoking areas
In terms of things to do at the airport, there’s a child’s play area for your kids to enjoy. You can find a play area in both terminals.
The airport also offers duty-free shopping, and a number of restaurants and fast-food chains. There are also vending machines on every concourse.
And, if you want to relax, you can head to an airport lounge. For those who wish to pray, there’s also a synagogue.
Are You Ready for Your Trip to Ben Gurion Airport?
By keeping this information in mind, your travel to Ben Gurion Airport will go a lot smoother.
If you have any questions about traveling to Ben Gurion Airport, please comment below.