Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The terminal is closed; long live the new terminal!

Landing yesterday morning at Ben Gurion Airport, we taxied past a gleaming new building, eagerly anticipating its first visitors. The plane came to a stop on the tarmac, and we walked down the stairs into the dawn sunlight to board the shuttle bus to Terminal 1 (there was a time when I naively assumed this was for security reasons). For the last time, we walked from the bus through the doors to the passport control hall, and waited with exhausted patience as the border control agents stamped travel documents.

This morning, Terminal 1 closed. Takeoffs and landings relocated to the new Terminal 3, a modern international terminal with moving sidewalks, closed walkways between the terminal and the planes, and world class duty free shopping. A new rail line links the terminal directly with central Tel Aviv. No longer will travelers to Israel arrive in a building resembling an overgrown bus terminal.

Passing the airport on my way to work this morning, I watched the landing of what must have been the last flight to arrive at the old terminal. Shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higiyanu lazman hazeh.

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