Saturday, June 18, 2016

No way to run an airport

We're back from Italy after a week's trip with Josh and Cathy and our three granddaughters and Bern's brother Dan. We spent all but the last day in Sienna, which is beyond a doubt the most beautiful and one of the most livable places I've ever been (besides Cheshire, of course). I made notes and will be blogging for a week or so about the trip.  The last day and night we spent in Rome since we had a 9:50 a.m. flight to Newark and Sienna is over two hours from Rome and making the flight would not have worked. More about Rome later.

First, Rome's airport.

Rome is a city of over 2 million people--not New York or Chicago or LA--but a major European capital. And they have no idea how to run an airport. The airport is pristine and new and yet it is a nightmare.

You arrive at a building after a half-hour or more cab ride from the city (50 Euros--about $60). In that building, you stand in line to have someone look at your passport and give you a huge plastic bag for all the carry on tooth paste, shampoo, etc. etc. you have, even though you already have it in plastic bags.

Then you march through to a door to buses that take you to the actual terminal. Buses that are packed full of standing up people with luggage and take 10 minutes or so for the trip to the terminal. In the terminal, you pass through security and then wander around for quite a while trying to find your gate. Your gate will be in the midst of several places to eat something and dozens of high end stores. Since you're there two hours before takeoff you shop and spend money and eat in places that have no logic understood in North America.

Bern and I had a pastry, coffee and orange juice. But here was the trick. You had to order and pay at a place far to the side of the place where the food was and then present your receipt to the servers. Well, 3/4 of the people were not Italian and stood in line to order food before being told by the servers to cross the room and pay first. How do you order food at a place where you can't see the menu?

Then you check in for the flight--boarding as usual in the US in groups (1-5). The catch was, you checked in and rode escalators down two stories to be herded into buses again to ride 5 miles or so to the plane and go up outside steps to board. A Boeing 777 needed half a dozen buses to get everyone to the plane.

So, you stand in line to get a plastic bag you don't need. Ride a bus. Buy expensive stuff and eat in illogical ways. Then stand in line to board and ride another bus and stand in line to climb outdoor steps to the plane.

Not a way to run an airport, far as I can see. The terminal actually had walkways to board planes but the planes were all five miles out on the runway. Go figure.

Much more to come about Italy. Most of it much better than the seemingly random and illogical way Rome airport works.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.