While many Israelis are preparing for the Passover Seder, many decided to spend the holiday abroad and brave insanely long lines at Ben Gurion Airport, which on Thursday reported its busiest day in over two years.
The airport officials said some 72,000 passengers from 454 different international flights are expected to pass through Israel’s only port of entry during the coming 24 hours - the biggest passenger rush since the onset of the pandemic.
Of these, about 40 passengers will leave the country on 248 outbound flights and about 32,000 passengers will return to Israel on 206 inbound flights.
Sarit Katzman, who was set to with her husband and children to spend Passover in Italy, said: "This is our first family trip since COVID started, at last. Everyone is excited.”
According to Katzman, like many others, her family arrived hours before the actual flight to try and circumvent the long queues plaguing the airport’s check-in counters, which had yet to actually open when they arrived.
"At first we were very scared of the security queue… but really the staff plucked families with children out of the queue, so that made it a little easier for us. Now, we hope we will not wait for hours at check-in.”
Eleanor Faroush also arrived with her four children to the airport long before the opening of their check-in counter: "The kids are complaining, but we try to keep them busy. We arrived four hours before our flight because we heard there were long queues, but the counter had not yet opened so it was pretty much for nothing.”
Sharon and Guy Tal from Tel Aviv, who flew to Amsterdam for Passover, also arrived at the airport several hours before the actual flight: "We have another two and a half hours until our flight, and we arrived three hours ahead of time. The queue isn’t moving but we came prepared for the wait."
Guy added that while the couple did travel during COVID, this trip was made much easier thanks to the government's decision to ease travel restrictions.
“It’s not a return to routine per se, but rather a new routine,” he added.