Tag Archives: Ben-Gurion airport

The Long Journey Home

3 Oct

Baxter and Lulu at Ben Gurion Airport

The driver arrived promptly at 2 a.m. We loaded all our bags and kitties in their carriers into the van and made our way to Ben Gurion Airport. Lulu cried nearly the entire way. And Baxter puked on his towel just minutes before arriving at the terminal. All standard and expected behavior for those two. Check-in at the airport was smooth and speedy. I was a bit miffed, though, that no one even asked to see the paperwork for the kitties that I’d spent so much time and money preparing before our departure. After we checked into the flight and paid for the kitties (they were flying as “excess baggage” at $200 per cat) we wheeled Baxter and Lulu in their carriers to an elevator where a Lufthansa employee took over and whisked our kitties away. It broke my heart to part with them and I prayed we’d soon be reunited safely in the U.S.

A four-hour layover in Frankfurt was mitigated by being able to hang out in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, thanks to the subscription frequent flyer Brad had invested in. In the lounge we had comfy chairs, free wifi and free food at our disposal. And a Lufthansa rep checked on the kitties for us and verified that they had safely arrived and were resting in the “pet lounge.”

On the shuttle from the airport to the rental car facility

We arrived at Dulles Airport around 3:30 p.m., about a half-hour early only to find ourselves waiting in an hour-long queue to go through passport control. Ugh! While we were shuffling through the line, I spied Baxter’s and Lulu’s carriers way against the wall on the far side of the baggage carousels. As soon as we got through passport control I made a bee line for the kitties while Brad collected our luggage. Both Baxter and Lulu were alert and appeared healthy and there were no messes in their carriers. Baxter was hunkered down in the far corner of the carrier while Lulu cried and paced back and forth in her carrier. She calmed down as we began wheeling them out of the baggage area. We breezed through customs. Again, no one asked for nor looked at any paperwork relating to the cats. We loaded our bags and the kitties onto the shuttle to the rental car facility where we picked up our rental van.

At the rental car facility

By the time we hit the DC Beltway it was 6 p.m. We heard scarcely a peep out of Lulu and Baxter on the drive home. We figured by now they’d resigned themselves to their fate. We drove first to our house where we dropped the kitties off for the night. We opened the carrier doors and they both burst out into our empty house, and began exploring every inch of the house — jumping on top of counters and cabinets, nosing into closets, running up and down the stairs. I wondered again if they recognized  the place.

We’d arranged to have kitty litter waiting for us there and had brought cat food with us, so they were set for the night. By then we were famished and decided to stop off for a bite to eat before checking into the hotel. Luckily, one of our fave Thai restaurants is located just around the corner from the hotel. It was 9 p.m. by the time we checked in. We’d been on the road more than 24 hours. I slept like a log.


A Strange Coincidence Involving An Earthquake and an Unattended Bag

25 Aug

Ben-Gurion Airport Arrivals Hall

Escaped Balloons at Ben-Gurion Airport Arrivals Hall

I travel frequently and usually my journeys are uneventful. Not so, at least for the beginning of my journey back home last Tuesday from my sojourn in the States.

My flight was due to depart BWI airport at 2:36 p.m. I had arrived ridiculously early at the airport so sat down to have a bite to eat at a restaurant near my gate in concourse D. As I was getting ready to pay my bill I overheard someone say there had been a bomb threat. All the merchants in concourse D had been instructed to close shop and our waitresses rushed to get everyone to settle their bill. I expected to hear an announcement regarding the threat. At least an order to evacuate the building. Not a peep from the PA system so I made my way to my gate near the end of concourse D.

There were not many people at my gate and it was business as normal as far as I could tell. The airline employee at the gate gave no indication of any threat or imminent evacuation. I began to think someone had been mistaken about the bomb threat and sat down to read my book.

A little while later I noticed the bank of chairs on which I was sitting began to vibrate. I heard a roaring noise as if a large truck were passing nearby. Then the entire building began to shake violently. The walls were swaying as if they were made of cardboard and would collapse at any minute. The shaking was over in a matter of seconds. But then the bewilderment and began.

People began looking around with quizzical looks and we were asking each other, “What the heck just happened?” One man nearby declared it was an earthquake. I was inclined to agree with him but thoughts of the recent bomb threat were niggling at the back of my mind. Then, a crowd of people began streaming into our end of the concourse. The panic level had definitely risen. One woman declared, “We have to get out of this building. Something just hit the airport. We have to get outside!” Some people began banging at the doors trying to get outside. Meanwhile, ever since the first rumblings, the airline employee was trying to get some sort of report over the phone. No reports were forthcoming but she decided to open the doors anyhow and many people ran outside.

Eventually, there was an announcement over the PA system to evacuate the building. I stepped outside and tried unsuccessfully to reach my sisters on my cell phone. I was near a fellow who was online and delivering reports from his facebook page: “It was an earthquake!” “5.8 quake centered in Virginia” Many people were incredulous of his reports. It seemed they preferred to believe it was a bomb rather than an earthquake. But the facebook reporter persisted. “it was 5. 2…no, 5.9! They felt it in DC!”

About ten minutes later we were allowed to reenter the building and the gate personnel confirmed the earthquake report. It wasn’t until I arrived home that I found out there had indeed been a bomb scare over an unattended bag near the security gate in concourse D. The folks who had come kicking and screaming to our gate had already gone through security and were in an agitated state even before the earthquake struck. Those who hadn’t gone through security had been ordered to evacuate the building while a bomb squad had been sent in to inspect the unattended bag.

All of this only amounted to a half hour delay in my flight departure. The rest of my journey was, well, uneventful. Two more flight changes and nearly 24 hours later I was back in Ben-Gurion airport ready for the ride home with hubby. When I walked in the door I had to laugh when little Lulu’s jelly belly swayed from side to side as she ran to greet me.