Since the Munich Olympic Games, in which Israeli athletes were murdered, the city of Munich has taken it upon itself to make sure nothing of the sort ever happens again. So they have a special terminal for flights to Israel. It's called Terminal F.

If you are ever in Munich and need to fly to Israel, drive elsewhere (such as Berlin, Bonn or Shanghai), instead of taking a flight from Munich.

Terminal F is separated from the rest of the airport. It is about 20 minutes away, walking. It is small, and has only a tiny duty free shop. But that is okay. The problem is they really want to make sure you are not carrying a bomb. I've heard that the following description is not always the case, but this is what happened to me:

They scan your luggage. Then they open all of your luggage (well, actually, you do, but they look through it). All the suitcases and rucksacs and bags are opened and scrutinized. They open your hand luggage. I'm not sure if this is done to everyone, but it was to me and to a 80-year old lady, who had actually been in the holocaust. Whereas in most airports you go through a metal detector, they do it by hand metal detectors in Terminal F. My girlfriend had her breasts touched, and also they make sure that you aren't hiding any explosives in between your legs. And they don't make sure by asking you about it.

Of course they don't speak English.

A wonderful end to any vacation.

"The problem is they really want to make sure you are not carrying a bomb"

"Problem"?

Frankfurt airport has the same deal with departures to Israel, except English is spoken (or was three years ago when I was there). There were many very solemn men with machine guns (mostly small machine guns, but some large). The terminal was remote, and the searching of luggage was fanatically thorough.

Here's the point: My view of all this was very laid back. There were sure as hell going to be no bombs on that airplane1. I don't recall anybody else complaining much either. If I ever go to Israel again, it's good to know that Munich is a viable option if I can't change planes in Frankfurt.

At Ben Gurion on my way back home, they had grave doubts about letting me on the plane at all: They called a VP of the company I was travelling for and dragged him out of bed on a Friday morning2 to vouch for me. Again, I thought the whole thing was pretty cool.

I know it's not the 1970s any more, but security isn't something you play games with, and bombs still go off on the ground in Israel from time to time. I don't know about you, but I'd feel pretty silly getting blown up in midair.




1 Except for the Jurassic Park sequel we had to sit through, ba-dum-chshhh...
2 Friday's on the weekend in Israel, for those who don't follow such things.
For my money, the best thing about Munich airport is the free internet access. This isn't some dodgy terminal with limited services, a huge queue and lots of ads like you get for free in Zurich Airport, no, this is free wireless internet. 802.11, wlan.

Since October 2001, two wireless points in the airport have opened up, one in the departure lounge (only for people with tickets) and one in the shopping centre by the train station. I'm currently at the latter, "cafe Treffpunkt" (cafe meeting-point). There's noone else here with a laptop, which surprises me, since the service is full 11Mb, . I even think it's worth the € 9 and 80 minutes on the train from Munich city (40 minutes each way). Of course, you will want to take your spare battery(ies) to make the most of it.

I think this is currently the only place on the web with this information in English.

Warning: The coffee at cafe treffpunkt is foul.

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