El Al Airlines, the national carrier of Israel, is famous for its stringent security measures.
That hasn't kept clowns—loved by most children, yet terrifying to some adults—from boarding some planes.
As part of an expanded family entertainment program, the airline has added a clown to the cabin crew of select long-haul flights from Tel Aviv to New York and several other cities.
The complimentary program runs all summer and was featured on some El Al flights during the recent unrest that caused other airlines to temporarily halt flights to and from Israel.
On clown-enhanced flights, the fright-wigged temporary crew member roams the aisles, telling stories and riddles to children and handing out coloring books, crayons and games. The clown also selects 10 children on each flight to serve as clown assistants and, as a reward for completing a variety of assignments, those children get to visit the captain in the cockpit.
"The clowns and all the extra giveaway items are an additional expense for the airline," said EL AL spokeswoman Sheryl Stein, "but it brings happiness to families during a busy travel season and we want the kids, who are our future customers, to remember El Al."