Got back to Israel today.
Interesting that the prevailing winds actually make this flight over three hours shorter than going in the opposite direction. But we just about made that up sitting on the tarmak in Newark, so it's still been an aggravatingly long time on a plane.
Now that I'm beginning my second two-ish month stint here, I'd like to resolve to get out more. It's kind of embarassing how little of this place I've seen so far. But I have the excuse that all autumn I was busy with the run-up to various things. No such excuse this time.
Below the fold: incompetence.
I don't know if this is a general feature of Continental desk agents, or just the one in San Antonio, but this latest trip also featured at least one brush with sheer incompetence. (I say "at least" since I don't know exactly why we sat around in Newark for so long. But part of the delay seems to have been due to the fact that you have to take off within twenty minutes of de-icing, and since they sprayed us about four times, we seem to have kept missing that deadline. Which sounds stupid.) At any rate, my agent was either given pretty nonsensical instructions, or can't read.
See, if you're going to Israel on a tourist visa, they won't let you in unless you can prove that you have a return ticket. Pretty standard for countries that have a problem with illegal immigration. But this lady seems to have gotten it in her head that
My silly agent was unmoved. So since I didn't have my return ticket on me (it's safely locked in my desk drawer back in Israel, which seemed like a sensible thing to do with it), before she'd let me check in (because the Israelis would apparently fine Continental if they had to throw me back) she made me buy a seat on a flight from Israel to the US! Fortunately we were able to drum up a fully refundable one that would fit under my credit limit. Thus I got to travel with the added peace of mind granted by having a thousand-dollar-and-change slip of paper tucked into my wallet.
Necessary? No. At the immigration checkpoint, they didn't so much as ask when I'd be leaving, and they certainly didn't demand to see a return ticket. So I'd like to know: has anyone else had this sort of problem, or are we dealing with an isolated outbreak of idiocy?