Monday, September 13

On Time Arrivals

Flying around these days I got to experience firsthand the latest developments in a few select airports.  Arriving in London, of course, is always terrific because you can dart inside a Marks&Spencer's for duck rollup or dozens of yummy and totally British snacks before heading for the trains. This time, however, at Gatwick Customs we were met with mile-long lines for EU holders and no lines on the foreign ones. 
One look at the front and there were idle passport checkers just biding their time.  Basically, they had instituted that day a new (non) system of line greeters, who were a bit slow on the uptake.  These guys would usher in one at a time when 6 counters stood empty.  Once again, I'm convinced that transport authorities harbor a sincere disdain for passengers.  Let the throngs decide the line to go in - it's a fairly efficient system, rewarding the ones without jet lag for keeping an eye on the 'about to open' counter.  Note to self:  bring American passport to London in future.

Meanwhile, taking a refrigerator-cattle coach RyanAir flight - under duress, believe me - to Torino, I arrived to discover a spanking clean new airport, looking a lot like Stansted did back in the day: like landing in a tidy shopping mall.  Testing my luck with a 1 hr. layover, all went swimmingly well, when I had to check into Alitalia, and was greeted with a smile, with even more in abundance once on board the plane.   
Note to self:  could you actually give Alitalia another try?  Or, is it only awesome service (with a cozy warm on board environment) as compared with the medieval-torture-chamber class of RyanAir?  May have to give it a second chance.

Arriving in Rome, I found excellent little luncheon places here & there and a nice little salon, always good to know.  They are doing considerable construction works, but laid out and even apologized for the inconvenience - a small miracle that almost sent me straight to pray on the tomb of Pope John Paul II - I was so tickled rosa, that I even liked the utterly casual 'Sorry' versus the "We apologize" string of words. 

Sadly, once upon the rail station of course, it was back to reality.  The robotic announcer read out the stops in an English which sounded a bit more like she was reading Bangladeshi - backwards.  Trains left from different platforms than indicated, and the whole place smelled of excrement -- from onboard toilets which the conductors seem to take delight in emptying regularly at this enclosed platform.  Note to self:  check and see if the Italian state railway isn't owned & operated by RyanAir.

5 comments:

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

I'm thinking we had the same Alitalia flight crew; there can't possibly be more than one that smile and are polite, right? Twilight Zone stuff....

Dave514 said...

Francesca:
The acid test for Alitalia is did you check luggage or did you only have carry-on?

The only and one and only time, I flew from Milano Mal---something or other to Budapest. Unbeknownst to me there was a wildcat strike on at Mal--something or other and I waited in beautiful Budapest stinking and unshaven like at Maltese water-rat for four days. No thanks to bloody Alitalia.

Trust but verify. In Alitalia's case, trust not and not verify!

Francesca Maggi said...

I think the secret is that those wonderful people from AIRONE have been forced to don green Armani outfits -- and, in a wonderful case of NOT judging a book by its cover, we're getting the AirOne staff who knows what side their bread is buttered...

Anonymous said...

liked your lil' piece today.

mamma maggi said...

So frustrating...I believe I read an announcement that new FCO airport facilities are gong to be built. When? After seeing DeGaulle, I hope the architects go & study it. I was so impressed not only by the stunning architecture, but by the passenger-friendly design (except for some very long walks w/too few mobile walkways...), & the handsome interiors of waiting areas (not to mention the degree of service help).