End of the Road for Free Ben Gurion Luggage Trolleys

YERUSHALAYIM -
Luggage trolleys at Ben Gurion International airport. Photo by Moshe Shai / Flash90
Luggage trolleys at Ben Gurion International airport. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Travelers passing through Ben Gurion Airport will soon no longer have the “free ride” for their luggage that has been the hallmark of the airport for years. Beginning next week, a program that will require payment for use of luggage trolleys will be implemented on a trial basis.

However, travelers who take the trouble to return their trolleys to a storage area will get their money back. The program will be implemented fully at Ben Gurion beginning in 2017, with all incoming and outgoing travelers affected, a report on Channel Two said.

Unlike many other airports in the world, travelers entering and leaving Israel had free access to as many luggage trolleys as they needed, with special staff employed to collect and return the trolleys. Most of those workers, however, are contract workers, and not part of the union that represents airport workers – and since budget cuts are the order of the day at Ben Gurion, management has targeted the trolleys as a way to save on labor.

Similar to the system at supermarkets, where customers insert five shekels into a slot to release a shopping cart and get their money back when they return it, travelers will be charged ten shekels for each luggage cart they “rent.” Instead of using coins, however, the charge will be made via credit card – with the money refunded when the cart is returned within several hours.

According to the Channel Two report, the company that won the tender to operate the new trolley system had been planning to charge an outright ten shekels for the use of the trolleys, but government officials insisted that the money be refunded when the carts were returned.