Alitalia must be Italian For Chaos

Jun 20th, 2014, 10:17 AM
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Alitalia must be Italian For Chaos

I made the major error of flying Alitalia on a recent trip to Italy, which also involved a domestic Italian flight to make a connection. To start, Alitalia does not seem to believe in boarding gates. They just park the planes out in the middle of the airport tarmac, so you have to get on on bus from the terminal which makes the boarding process long and tedious. There must also be an Italian bus shortage since they pack you in like sardines. Of course, the "business bus" pulls away first and mostly empty. Then you board the plane 1960 style, by climbing up a set of stairs dragging your luggage.

The real killer was the time they switched planes. The new plane had different seating numbers - there were no B seats some inexplicable reason. It just went from A-C. They neglected issue new boarding passes to many passengers in the missing rows, so people got on the plane to discover that they had no seat. The airline wanted to just fit people into any empty seats, but this meant that people who were traveling together would have been separated. So they wouldn't accept this. It all two hours of musical chairs to sort out. It was utter chaos.

So I you like chaos, long delays and waiting around to be packed into a bus like canned fish, and enjoy climbing long flights of stairs with suitcases, then Alitalia is the airline for you.
lmhornet is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 10:44 AM
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At many airports and on many airlines you have to take a bus to/from the plane. It is not just Alitalia.
ekc is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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If it is any consolation, when departing Rome, I had to take a bus to my plane (USAir) which was situated on the tarmac, away from the gate.

I lived to tell the tale. (I did wonder what they may have done for a person with limited mobility, since you had to climb a set of stairs to enter the plane.)
mama_mia is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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If you live in an empty country, with no real voter control over endless building and near-slave wages for migrant construction workers, it's easy to build immense airports.

In Europe, there simply isn't space to indulge people on planes. If you want comfort in inter-city travel, get on a train.

If you insist on polluting the environment by flying within a small country, expect to put up with discomfort. Console yourself with the thought that you'll be suffering far less than the millions of people putting up with the noise your flight is imposing on them.

No doubt in your country, petty whinges from tourists with a delusion of entitlement are met with a ton of "customer comes first" gibberish about your rights.

If that matters to you, you and we would be a great deal happier if you stayed at home.

Crowded buses are the price we expect polluters to pay for the damage they're doing. At Munich and Heathrow, on Lufthansa and BA, every bit as much as on Alitalia at Rome or Milan
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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DRJ is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 11:17 AM
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Ditto DRJ
opaldog is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 11:36 AM
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As it happens, I am one of those disabled people who encountered the 'bus to the plane, then climb' scenarios, two days ago on Icelandair from Reykjavik to Denver. It appears that the airline's schedule is a little more demanding than can be accommodated at Kevlavik, so some planes board from the tarmac. Three of us were in wheelchairs to the bus - two were wheeled onto the bus on a patently dangerous ramp, I chose to climb on with the assistance of my DH and my cane. The plane involved had two staircases (like from the 60s)one at each end, and yes, all three of us were expected to climb them even if they had to half carry you. I have no idea what they would do if a person were totally incapacitated. I know perfectly well what my limitations are, I book my travel accordingly, and I don't expect things to look like the ADA requires them in this country. That said, there are some EU rules that cover disability, that are enforced very strangely, eg., disabled parking next to four or five steps into the hotel. European countries can do better: there is actually an elevator up the side of the Acropolis, and I think that if they can do that, they can do anything.
oliverandharry is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 11:55 AM
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Welcome to a European airport. Evidently you haven't been to one before.

Ignore Flanner's blathering. He doesn't know a bloody thing about the United States.

Fact is, in the US the jetway to airplane connection is mandated by the FAA at airports that must comply with specific design and passenger transport requirements. And even if such requirements hadn't been set before the ADA, it would essentially require them.
BigRuss is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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I have taken buses to planes and climbed gangways with my luggage flying Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Air France, Ryan Air, Easy Jet, TAP, Aegean Air -- I just can't remember whether I've done it flying BA.

I flat out don't believe it took two hours to get everyone seated for a domestic flight on an Alitalia plane even if people had boarding passes that didn't match seat numbers. The planes aren't that big. Besides, italians customarily take any seat on a train and then switch seats to accommodate people traveling together. They simply are not obsessed with that slip of paper that has a seat number on it.

Lufthansa has a great system for boarding planes where you can place any large carryon luggage into a baggage cart right at the bottom of the gangway. It's tagged and put in the cargo hold. When the plane lands, it is off-loaded immediately and you can pick it up at the bottom of the gangway and just be on your way, rather than wait at the carousel.

I just with Lufthansa didn't go on strike so much. In that respect, they have proved far more unreliable than Alitalia.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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Looks like bad luck on the draw. Last May we had a package deal out of New York to Rome and back. The out leg was Alitalia and Delta on return. Since we had heard a number of horrid stories like yours we were very apprehensive about the Alitalia leg. Big surprise - it actually was very pleasant. Equipment was new and service was great. Far better than we have recently received on US Air and United. I airline travel is very mixed bag and depends on some luck.
fmpden is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 01:24 PM
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It's the same the whole world over.

Short range regional flights in the US often load from hardstands on the flight line with luggage carts at the foot of the stair for the you-thought-you-were-going-to-carry-on luggage. The stairs are a pain for those with limited mobility, but there are just not enough passengers to pay for better facilities on flights to small cities.

The seating scramble you describe used to be common in France where internal flights were boarded like Southwest, by group rather than row. But individual seats weren't assigned.
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 01:54 PM
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I actually had stairs on a flight from LA (Burbank) to NYC. And there was no jetway. I had recently sprained my ankle badly - and while a jetway was OK (I could walk slowly but it wasn't fun) the stairs were not. So I went to the front of the line and had myself qualified as handicapped. got to board first - and not hold up the whole line going up one step with left foot, then right foot - and had someone haul my carry-on up for me.

I felt like I was cheating - but better than have a whole line of passengers wait for me to climb slowly up the steps. Not sure what someone with a serious permanent disability would do.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Interesting to me about the short range regional US flights. I rarely take them. I would rather give up my carry on at the foot of the stairs then lug it up the gangway.

I forgot to add Transavia to my list of airlines I've flown where I've been bussed to the plane from the Terminal.


I regularly choose Alitalia over competitors flying transatlantic because of seat comfort. Only better airline than Alitalia doing nonstops from Italy to US or vice versa that I have found is Emirates. (For intra-European flights, Alitalia is middling, with several other carries superior.) Many of the tourist "horror stories" about Alitalia are usually about FCO, which Alitalia doesn't control. And I don't see how being bussed to a plane is a horror story anyway, not to most people who frequently travel. It is par for the course for most of us traveling a lot in Europe.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 02:12 PM
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We recently used stairs at Heathrow to board a BA 747 going to Seattle. And then had stairs the following day to board the much smaller plane going to Spokane.

At our local airport in the U.K., all planes are boarded using stairs. It's the standing in the rain that is the worst part for passengers.
chartley is offline  
Jun 20th, 2014, 03:11 PM
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We have had to use the same buses and stairs to get on our flights at Heathrow terminal 5 on a BA flight to Lisbon...and that is the newest terminal...
jamikins is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 03:15 AM
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"I flat out don't believe it took two hours to get everyone seated for a domestic flight on an Alitalia plane even if people had boarding passes that didn't match seat numbers. The planes aren't that big. Besides, italians customarily take any seat on a train and then switch seats to accommodate people traveling together. They simply are not obsessed with that slip of paper that has a seat number on it."

Try reading again. I didn't say that it was a domestic flight. You made the assumption and then went off on a rant. In fact, it was the return transatlantic flight.

I also left out a few details. One was that in changing the tickets, they stopped people as they were about to board. This held up the boarding process for a few minutes every time. As a result, the line moved very slowly and people waiting to board had to stand on their feet in line 45-60 minutes. This was after after standing in the boarding area for extended time waiting for boarding to begin because there were not nearly enough seats in the waiting area. I had been standing at least 1.5 hours before even reaching the bus. Then I had to stand in the bus 15-20 more minutes while they packed in more and more people as tightly as possible. And of course, I had to stand on the plane until the problem was fixed because I didn't have a seat. And BTW, I've been to plenty of European airports and never experience anything like this before. I have been bussed to planes in the US, but only small commuter planes at remote terminals. Never a jumbo jet with all those stairs out in the middle of nowhere.

Lastly, funny how this post turned into a Rorschach test for the feeble of mind. It apparently provided an excuse for some ideologs, mostly left wing, to spew their gibberish about the environment, exploitation of immigrants etc. That's why I despise such people. Personally, I plan to go out and pollute as much as possible today. I think I'll let my car run a few hours right after my Vietnamese maid that I pay $1/hour cleans the bathroom.
lmhornet is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2014, 02:47 AM
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...and I thought they were all right wing.
opaldog is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2014, 03:46 AM
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I was on a Meridiana flight from Milan to Catania two years ago.

We were probably the only passangers (British) who followed the checked in baggage regulations. Nearly the whole flight managed to get through check in whilst carrying on suitcases, TVs, sofas, the lot!

It took at least 90 minutes to sort out the cabin and transfer the contents of people's houses into the hold.

Italia is Italian for chaos.
Dickie_Gr is offline  
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