In 2023, the Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv will receive a major digital makeover, promising shorter wait times for travelers and transforming it into one of the world’s most technologically advanced airports, according to an announcement by the Israel Airports Authority (IAA).
“A main objective of the IAA is improving services for passengers in the immediate future and, in the long term, becoming a digital airport and one of the most advanced of its kind in the world,” Hagai Topolansky, the IAA CEO, said.
This year, as the skies of the Holy Land opened back up for tourists, Ben-Gurion was struggling with a lack of staff (like much of the Western world). This “perfect storm” resulted in long lines, lost luggage, and cranky travelers. Our international airport found itself unprepared for the crush of 10 million passengers that have flown to and from Israel since January. By the numbers, Israel’s main airport has experienced a 340 percent increase in travelers since March while dealing with a shortage of 1,400 workers. At times, the line to get on a flight has stretched outside the doors of the airport.
Once completed, the $15 million digital upgrade project is expected to result in reduced check-in times (by at least half an hour), and it will do away with the initial-stage security check.
Most travelers (more than half of those traveling abroad from Ben-Gurion) already do their check-ins online, according to the IAA. The airport will also install “Touch-and-Play” centers onsite where passengers can access various online services. At these booths, passengers can weigh their luggage, print their luggage tags, and even send the bags to their airplane—all without having to wait in line for a counter agent. The IAA is also adding 24 hand-luggage inspection areas.
“People flying abroad will only go through a security check after completing the check-in process for their flight – either by checking in online from home or by using one of the independent kiosks that will be installed at the airport’s departures hall,” the IAA statement said. “Most of the process required for leaving the country will be done online and through digital means, maximizing comfort and accessibility for the passengers.”
Travel to and from Israel is expected to continue to grow. The IAA is anticipating 18 million flyers this year and 24 million passengers by the end of 2023.