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FCO, anyone?? I'm venting -- apologies in advance

Alpinista

100+ Posts
Just a quick snit and then I'll feel better.

Don't know if we hit a bad travel day/time, but felt exhausted getting to our United flight yesterday. When we went through FCO in September, think we were fifth in line at check-in and just walked through all the stations.

Yesterday, it was shoulder-to-shoulder mob scene. Arrived to a jam-packed terminal 3. United's check-in is all the way to the end of the terminal, so started weaving our way through the crowd until we hit a wall (literally) with an agent directing us out the door, onto the sunny sidewalk, and a decently long walk to the final door where we reentered to the United desks. It was impossible to distinguish between the priority check-in and regular lines (just kind of mingling together). Got that sorted out and had about 20 people in front of us in priority and thanking our lucky stars we were not in the regular line.

Then went all the way back to the other end (from whence we had come) and found that the wall we had hit the first time had an opening that allowed one way foot traffic in the direction we were going. Then got to the security lines and found the same confusion due to the volume of people trying to get into a correct line -- overlaps of people going to check-in desks, to EU passport control, and to non-EU control.

After a lot of people (including us) saying, "Is this the line to.....", we got that done and went fairly quickly through the inspection process. It only took an hour from leaving the airport hotel to being through everything, but it just felt FAR longer (very few people wearing masks, btw).

Once at the lounge, we found a group of people waiting outside the door with one kind person saying, "There's a half an hour wait" -- at which point we started to turn around until a second voice added, "Unless you are flying business class". Our relief at getting in was quickly mitigated when we found that the new Prima Vista lounge is far smaller than the previous lounge, was not all that clean at the tables, and that the only way to get a beverage or food was to stand in a slow-moving line where one attendant took your order and then the same attendant leaving the line to go into the kitchen area when summoned to deliver orders to the tables. I never made it to the front of the line before our flight boarding was called, so no idea how long it would have taken to get something or what the quality would have been.

Once on the flight, there was no entertainment service, so spent 10 hours playing games on my iPhone.

Highlight of the flight was this being served for the afternoon snack. The stewardess said it was a hamburger.

You be the judge.

cheeseburger united 1.jpg


cheeseburger united 2.jpg
 
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joe

500+ Posts
The whole travel industry - and that includes the consumers - has been caught with its pants down, so not really a surprise that things look messy anywhere you look. Not just in travel : resilience is not usually built anymore into almost anything - too many unknowns and too much pressure to cut costs.
Still - nothing beats travel.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Heathrow is limiting flights for the rest of the summer. I’ve seen photos of big crowds. In the UK we’ve been caught with our pants down for everything! Not just travel.

Sounds like a bad day of travel @Alpinista ! Bet you are happy to be home. Plus it must have been HOT in Italy!
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
Sounds like a bad day of travel @Alpinista ! Bet you are happy to be home. Plus it must have been HOT in Italy!
We were actually sleeping under covers from arrival (mid-May) to the second week of June. It then did turn hot and got pretty oppressive some days.

One of the tourist sites near us is the Devil's Bridge at Borgo a Mozzano. We drove some guests up there and the riverbed was bone dry with vegetation starting to grow -- only a small thread of water going under one of the bridge piers. News was saying worst drought in 70 years. Our neighbor's olive trees were budding when we got there and then the buds just dried up and disappeared. They had almost no olives last year and looks like the same coming for this year.

Had a fantastic trip all in all, just a bad ending. We're headed back in the middle of September, so will see what the airport experience is then.
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
So sorry to hear of your experience flying home…it sounds like it was sheer chaos at FCO. We are flying United IAD to FCO in early October…I hope things will be better by then, but I am not holding my breath. We usually fly Delta nonstop from Detroit to Rome, but that flight has been discontinued. This is our first international flight with United in many years. I will be eager to hear of your airport experience in September…I hope it is much improved.
Curious…why was there no in flight entertainment? Was the system just not working?
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
We'd decided not to travel throughout Covid and stuck to it this year as well, assuming there would still be Covid related hassle / risk.

I don't think we'd anticipated the airports being as bad as they are at the moment, and given that we find them rather unpleasant normally, this rather suggests we'd have an awful time going through them.

I'd like to think next year would be better and fuel prices would have reduced somewhat, but we'll see.
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
Curious…why was there no in flight entertainment? Was the system just not working?
Correct. They made the announcement prior to boarding that the system was inoperative and reminded people to download the United App so that we could access entertainment that way. I also tried to download some Netflix items, but the connection at the airport just couldn't handle the traffic and nothing downloaded. Once on board, it turned out that the App operated through the entertainment system, so nothing doing that way either. They did give us each a travel certificate for $175.

Just to top things off, there was a crying baby in our section, but my wife gave me the "I'm sure you remember when we were traveling with our own kids" look and I just plugged in my ear buds and turned on my iPhone music library ;-)

Think we were just caught totally off guard after the ease of getting through FCO last fall. The departure flight from Dulles in May also exposed us to line lengths that we had not seen in quite a while -- guess everyone is ready to travel again.
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
I am glad you posted this, Alpinista…at least we will be forewarned for our United trip from Dulles to Rome in early October. I will make sure that I have several books downloaded and also maybe bring sandwiches for each of us if the food on our United flight proves to be as inedible as yours was.
We are flying United this Fall as we can drive to Arlington, VA, stay overnight with our daughter, and then fly nonstop to FCO from Dulles. We normally fly nonstop from Detroit to Rome, Paris, and London and have always found the Detroit airport to be easy to navigate, the Delta flights from there to be good, and the meals to be quite adequate. Delta is no longer flying nonstop to Rome from Detroit, but it is still flying nonstop to London…the flight we plan to take to the UK for Christmas this year. It will be interesting to compare the two experiences…Delta vs United.
I took a trip to Tuscany with my daughter in March 2018 (my husband and son were in Barcelona for our future son-in-law’s stag party). We flew Austrian Air from Dulles to Vienna and then onto Florence. It was one of the nicest experience I have ever had on a flight...Austrian Air was almost luxurious compared to other international flights I have taken. But that was pre-Covid…who knows now?
 
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Alpinista

100+ Posts
Mom83....hope you have a great trip. One of our sons and his new wife flew to/from FCO/O'Hare. They left FCO a couple of days before us and said they didn't have any real issues with check-in, security, or lounge, so maybe it was just a combination of a heavy usage day and grumpy old people (they are both 32.....we're not).
 

SMJ

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
No need to apologise!
We all are appreciative of updates and warnings about travel these days.
Those of us who haven't flown yet this year are avidly gathering information to make our own flights better.
I'm off to Italy in September...flying KLM to Florence through Amsterdam.....and I'm keeping an eagle eye out for news and updates until then.
Hopefully a transit flight through AMS won't be as bad as coming into the airport from the city, to then run the gauntlet of security, baggage, etc.
 

GailS

100+ Posts
I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that my recent flight through Paris CDG wasn't all that bad. We had no lines at security, no lines at passport control - a first. I had avoided flying to Europe with a connection in CDG for several years due to the lines for both passport control & security having to change between 2F & 2E for connecting flights to Italy. We did sit on the plane for about an extra hour delay waiting for a slot to depart but at least that ensured our luggage made it. Baggage in Venice was much slower to come our than normal. Fingers crossed for an uneventful return trip.
 

NoSpin

100+ Posts
It only took an hour from leaving the airport hotel to being through everything, but it just felt FAR longer (very few people wearing masks, btw).
I hope you realize that your experience was better than 99% of other air travelers right now.

Last week American informed me that our August 22 connection flight in LHR to MXP was cancelled. We re-routed to JFK and then directly to MXP. After yesterday morning's news, I am grateful we are not going through LHR.

Our return flight on October 11 is through LHR, but I won't care if our luggage is delayed, we have plenty of clothes at home! :D
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
I think we all have to be prepared for issues when flying nowadays. Sometimes our flights will be seamless…other times not so much. My sister-in-law is flying RT to Amsterdam in 2 weeks to see her son in Maastrich…she is very much concerned about what she has heard about the problems at Schiphol airport. But at least she is forewarned and mentally prepared for delays. It will not make the lines and wait easier, but it will not be a surprise.
 

vicogirl51

10+ Posts
Just a quick snit and then I'll feel better.

Don't know if we hit a bad travel day/time, but felt exhausted getting to our United flight yesterday. When we went through FCO in September, think we were fifth in line at check-in and just walked through all the stations.

Yesterday, it was shoulder-to-shoulder mob scene. Arrived to a jam-packed terminal 3. United's check-in is all the way to the end of the terminal, so started weaving our way through the crowd until we hit a wall (literally) with an agent directing us out the door, onto the sunny sidewalk, and a decently long walk to the final door where we reentered to the United desks. It was impossible to distinguish between the priority check-in and regular lines (just kind of mingling together). Got that sorted out and had about 20 people in front of us in priority and thanking our lucky stars we were not in the regular line.

Then went all the way back to the other end (from whence we had come) and found that the wall we had hit the first time had an opening that allowed one way foot traffic in the direction we were going. Then got to the security lines and found the same confusion due to the volume of people trying to get into a correct line -- overlaps of people going to check-in desks, to EU passport control, and to non-EU control.

After a lot of people (including us) saying, "Is this the line to.....", we got that done and went fairly quickly through the inspection process. It only took an hour from leaving the airport hotel to being through everything, but it just felt FAR longer (very few people wearing masks, btw).

Once at the lounge, we found a group of people waiting outside the door with one kind person saying, "There's a half an hour wait" -- at which point we started to turn around until a second voice added, "Unless you are flying business class". Our relief at getting in was quickly mitigated when we found that the new Prima Vista lounge is far smaller than the previous lounge, was not all that clean at the tables, and that the only way to get a beverage or food was to stand in a slow-moving line where one attendant took your order and then the same attendant leaving the line to go into the kitchen area when summoned to deliver orders to the tables. I never made it to the front of the line before our flight boarding was called, so no idea how long it would have taken to get something or what the quality would have been.

Once on the flight, there was no entertainment service, so spent 10 hours playing games on my iPhone.

Highlight of the flight was this being served for the afternoon snack. The stewardess said it was a hamburger.

You be the judge.

View attachment 36963

View attachment 36964
Omg what is that?? I’m sure you are missing Stop Pizza lol. Soon!!!
 

daydreamer

10+ Posts
In late May, I flew from YYZ (Toronto) to FCO (Rome), returning in mid-June from ZRH (Zurich).
We had been advised to arrive at the airport in Toronto well in advance of our flight, which we did. Checking baggage proceeded at an acceptable pace. The security area though was packed and hectic as was our gate prior to boarding the plane.
There were long line-ups to clear customs at FCO but we moved through it quickly. The delivery of baggage was delayed only slightly.
We arrived at the Zurich airport well in advance of our return flight and were third in line to check-in. This process was drawn out though as the parties in front of us did not have all of the needed documentation. Going through security did not take long.
Upon landing in Toronto, we proceeded through an almost empty customs section before moving to the baggage claim area. Within six minutes, luggage from our flight appeared on the baggage carrousel. I have never experienced such a smooth and rapid movement through customs and baggage retrieval. However, there was a nearby area stacked with unclaimed suitcases from other flights. I feel very fortunate.
 

GailS

100+ Posts
Return flight for me did prove problematic. Our flight from Venice to Paris was delayed for 45 minutes due to baggage handling issues. They said the baggage crews were new and not very efficient. Flight from Paris to Boston was delayed by 30 minutes but they did not say why. When we arrived in Boston and they were opening the door at the gate they announced that most of us would not find our checked luggage as only a small amount was put on the plane. Getting off the crew said that there were only about 30 bags (which looked about right at the carousel - maybe a few more). Ours were not there. One couple next to us got one of 2 bags which they had checked in together. They handed out papers with instructions for filing a lost bag claim where you were told that when the bags arrive you will have to go to the airport to pick them up instead of having them delivered as has happened on ever other occasion where we've had bags delayed.
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
If we were local to the airport we *might* swallow the minor inconvenience, but otherwise they'd be instructed to deliver them to us, or face a claim.

Some additional insight here
 

GailS

100+ Posts
I can't seem to find anything that states that the airline (Air France in this case) is actually responsible for delivering to my destination address rather than just the destination airport in case of delay. From their online tracking it looks like they will try to put the bags on today's same flight number. I guess I could try to demand compensation for say cab fare to and from the airport if they insist they will not deliver to my home.
 

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