Pros: Frequent non-stop service to many destinations from Newark Airport. Very new planes.
Cons: Sometimes horrific food in coach. Slightly more expensive than other airlines
I recently flew Continental from EWR-TLV-EWR. I decided to take Continental, because I had a horrible experience with EL AL the last time I went to Israel, and usually fly them domestically since I live much closer to Newark airport then JFK or LGA.
I got to EWR 3 1/2 hours before flight time since I always like to leave plenty of time for security. I went through the standard security questions like "Where was your bag for the last 24 hours?", and "Who packed your bag?" etc. I then had the bone structure of my fingers and my passport scanned, and I was given a little card to hand in at the gate. I then proceeded to check in. There was no line since I was so early. After getting my boarding pass I was told to go to a baggage screener. They took my bag, put it through the machine, and matched the bag with my name on the boarding pass and my passport and took it away. When I got to the security screening checkpoint, the agent had me take my shoes off, put them and my carry on on the conveyor belt, and pass through the metal detector, which was no big deal.
After burning some time walking around the gate areas of terminal C, I decided to go to my gate. Continental really did a nice job remodeling terminal C; there are plenty of concessions and stores there to fit peoples needs. At the gate, I handed in my little card and had my finger bone structure scanned again to confirm that it was me; there were no problems. I was then put on a line to have my carry on scanned for explosives with a little explosive trace detector pad; once again there were no problems. After that I sat by the gate area until boarding. The only negative thing was that if I left the gate area for any reason, I would have to go through that procedure all over again, but I had no problem.
At boarding time the plane was loaded from back to front with the exception of First class going first. I was in row 21 so I had to wait a little while, but once I got on everything was fine and I just sat down and awaited our departure. The taxiing from the gate to the runway was uneventful. The takeoff was a little bumpy but not really a big deal and the climb was very smooth.
About a half hour after takeoff we were given food and drinks (Alcoholic drinks cost $5 or NIS 25 each, but since I'm under 21 it was irrelevant to me). The food was pretty bad, but edible. After dinner we got another round of drinks which was good; they also handed out earplugs and nightshades. I played around with the inflight gaming system for a little while and then drifted in and out of sleep for a couple of hours. I usually don't sleep well on planes, but my seating location made it even harder since I was in the window seat right next to the huge jet in a Boeing 777.
A couple hours before landing, we got another meal, which tasted ok and another round of drinks. The flight attendants then proceeded to hand out the neccessary immigration forms to enter Israel. The landing at TLV was smooth and we were loaded into buses after stepping onto the tarmac. After going through immigration and customs, I was free. The biggest problem with this flight is the length, It's nearly an 11 hour flight EWR-TLV and almost 12 hours for TLV-EWR. Of course, there is nothing anybody can do about that.
I got to TLV 4 hours before takeoff because I knew that security at Ben Gurion airport is crazy, and I would reccomend everybody else do the same. After going through a 20 minute grilling about my visit to Israel and my family at home, I was cleared to check in. I was the 2nd person to check in and I proceeded to passport control to get stamped out of the country. The passport control agent gave me a hard time, because she was convinced I was a dual Israeli-American citizen, and was using my U.S. passport to leave the country in order to evade the mandatory military service. After 10 minutes of attempting to convince her otherwise, she believed that I was really only an American citizen and let me go. After that, I went through the metal detectors and and the carry on screening area without incident. The concessions at TLV are lacking, but I can't blame Continental for that.
Boarding at TLV is non-eventful and the flight home was basically a repeat of the flight there. We had a smooth take-off and climb. Food and drinks were given out, and I got a couple hours of sleep.
After a smooth landing at EWR, we then proceeded to Continental's new exclusive Customs and Immigration facility in terminal C. The lack of other Airlines' passengers using this facility made going through it a breeze. I was cleared through Customs and Immigration in about 20 minutes; the only reason it took so long was that my bag was one of the last to come off of the plane. All in all I was really happy that I took Continental and hope to fly them where ever I may need to go.