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Rome airport--should I arrive more than 2 hours early?

Rome airport--should I arrive more than 2 hours early?

Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:14 AM
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P_M
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Rome airport--should I arrive more than 2 hours early?

The last time I flew out of this airport was in 1980 so I'm a little out of touch.

I will be flying AA, FCO/JFK, departing 9:45am on Sunday, May 11. I was planning to take the Leonardo Express which would get me there at 7:22am but should I take an earlier train? I hate being rushed at the airport and I need some idea of how busy this airport would be on a Sunday morning.

I will do the on-line check in the day before in case that matters.

Thanks.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:43 AM
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For a flight to the US I would arrive 3 hours in advance - assuming you have checked luggage. I have seen security lines there (and you may have to go through twice) that are 40 minutes long.

Definitely contact your airline and find out what they require.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 10:00 AM
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"For a flight to the US I would arrive 3 hours in advance"

I'm sorry, but that's absolutely bad advice, especially on a Sunday morning in Italy. I've been traveling back and forth to Italy for 30 years, and fairly often. NEVER would I EVER get to the airport 3 hours in advance.

Arriving at 7:22 AM for a 9:45 flight is perfectly fine. Don't be surprised if ticket agents don't show up until 8 AM. You can come back here and say I told you so.

Telephone agents for airlines DO NOT actually know what goes on at other country's ticket counters. You need to take advice from people who have actual experience and a lot of it.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 10:02 AM
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I flew FCO-EWR two weeks ago on United, Saturday AM at 950AM. Two hours was plenty.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 01:15 PM
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Check-in in Europe has gotten so much quicker and efficient in the last couple years with online check-in and/or airport kiosks. 2 hours is perfect.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 01:48 PM
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Thank you all for your replies, I knew I could count on the Fodorites for good info.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 01:53 PM
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It depends on the carrier. If it's a direct flight to the US on a US-operated carrier, it departs from Terminal 5, and entails extra security. After security, you're bussed to Terminal 3. This takes extra time, and I would allow three hours. I know someone who barely made her flight, arriving at the airport three hours before scheduled departure.

If, however, you're actually flying Alitalia, or if you're transferring in some other (non-US) city, two hours should be sufficient. The last time I returned to Italy from the US (on US Air, if I remember correctly) the flight crew made an announcement that return flights to the US were very time-consuming at Fiumicino airport, and that passengers should arrive at least two and a half hours before scheduled departure. Since I've sometimes experienced delays of up to 15 minutes on the Leonardo Express, and since taxis can take even longer than the train, with even more unpredictable delays, I would plan on arriving three hours in advance, so that I could be sure of arriving two and a half hours in advance.

After all, what's at stake if you arrive ten minutes too late to make your flight? What's at stake if you arrive an hour early? There are some great shops in the departure halls at Fiumicino.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 02:10 PM
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I think you will be cutting it too short if you get to the airport at 7:22 a.m. for a 9:45 a.m. flight.

I flew out of FCO on AA last week - to Chicago. Getting through security took a long time. The service at AA at Terminal 5 is very, very slow. The AA agents had no sense of urgency for anything. The whole process seemed disorganized. We were so frustrated. We arrived three hours in advance - and got to the gate in time for boarding. I would not recommend anything less than three hours. If you're at the head of the security line, three hours is ok. If you're at the back of the line - good luck. We've been through lots of airports over the years - but this was the worst experience ever.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 03:35 PM
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In 2012 we transferred from a flight from Naples to our flight to JFK on Alitalia with a 2 hour connection. Our baggage was checked through, and we cleared security in Naples. With lines and internal transfers within the airport, we had only 15 minutes to spare at the boarding gate. Leave yourself 3 hours and if things go fast, well, the place is a big shopping mall as well as an airport.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 03:36 PM
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The point is, for early morning departures in Italy, even if you arrive 2 hours in advance, you can't do much until your airline's employees show up. I travel with checked luggage, so you can't enter security until your luggage is checked. Do carry-on passengers get through security faster? Possibly. But they just stand around waiting for everyone else to finish. They don't get home or on the plane any faster.

Security lines take as much time as they take. None of my return flights to the U.S. from Italy have ever taken off on time. There always seems to be some passenger delay that prevents the plane from closing its doors. Every international departure from Italy seems to offer mayhem and confusion, no matter which carrier you're on. If passengers are held up for international flights due to slow moving security lines, those flights wait for them to get to the plane. I've experienced this also at CDG many times, which is notorious for 35-minute connections on international flights.

If anyone needs to "feel more secure" by getting to the airport extra early for their morning flight, knock yourself out. Been there, done that. I'll pass.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 03:52 PM
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FYI, no Italian airport appears on American Airlines list of cities that require more than two hours check-in time. However, CDG is on the list, which is kind of a joke when you consider their wacky schedule of international flight connections.

There will always be people who feel "scared" for some reason or another, and must get to the airport hours before the recommended time. Yet, I don't know one person on an international flight out of Italy who was left at security because the line was moving too slowly.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 05:30 PM
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It all depends on circumstances. My last return from Rome - on a Friday last November - we got to the airport about 2.5 hours in advance. For whatever reason there was an in-depth second security check after the regular one - and we ended up getting to the plane only about 10 minutes before they closed the doors.

OK for us since we were flying business and there was room for our carry-ons, but if economy that might have been an issue.

And I admit that I am risk averse. I like to get on the plane as soon as they open the doors - so I can arrange everything (carry-on, pillow, blanket, air controls, etc) exactly the way I want it. And pull out my glasses, book, magazines, water bottle to put in seat back, etc - just get comfy while everyone else is hauling things up and down the aisles - cursing out the people who won't sit down, can't find a place to put their oversize carry-on, are shouting instructions to their kids or seem to be dragging a body bag on with them.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:12 PM
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We giot to FCO too early a few years ago.......couln't do anything until the airline opened the line for check in. Didn't matter that we checked in online. I think you will be fine.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:16 PM
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This has turned out to be a much more interesting thread than I expected with a variety of opinions. While I truly appreciate and respect all opinions, I am particularly concerned by bab706's post as s/he was just there last week on an AA flight.

At first I thought my plan to arrive at 7:22 was a good one and I still think it might work. But I'm now leaning toward the risk-averse camp and I think it would be best to take the earlier train and arrive at 6:50. NYCFoodSnob's point is well-taken about the ticket counter opening time so I called AA. They said the ticket counter will open at 7am on my travel date so I think a 6:50 arrival will be perfect. If I have spare time I will use it for window shopping and/or last minute souvenir shopping.

Thanks again to all.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:22 PM
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I agree with Snobby.

Keith and I flew out of Fiumicino on a Sunday morning and we had plenty of time.

It was an absolute nightmare waiting for the coffee counter to open, then a mad dash, everyone pushing and shoving.

Make sure you have your cornetto and cappuccino before you get to the airport.

I think we flew Delta.

Thin
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:28 PM
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Thank you Thin, I always love your unique perspective on everything. I am also a coffee lover so I will make a point of taking care of such important business in advance in order to avoid chaos a the coffee counter. There's nothing worse than being in an early morning riot with a mob of java junkies.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:32 PM
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When you check in they made us take everything electronic and liquid out of our bags and put in a special bag, then walked a ways and found security so have that done and you can skip that step. I like to do last minute duty free shopping and was really hoping for some good deals at the Ducati shop and Prada so gave myself a little more time. They did have a good food shop for those things you didn't buy. Anyhow, two hours should be plenty. I spent the night before at the Hilton airport hotel so no worry with getting there in the morning.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:50 PM
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What is interesting is how different posters frame events having statistical variations. Some frame such events as deterministic: because last so many events they observed fell in certain range (below two hours), all the events will always fall in that range. Enough people have posted evidences that lead time is a long tail event. Each one decides whether it is acceptable to ever fall in that long tail part. Some think it never happens to them. If the cost of moving yourself out of the long tail part of the distribution is not significant, it might be worthwhile for some, while totally uncalled for others to do something about it.

Depending on the security landscape, they can suddenly install additional security check points. Events like the shoe bomber incident, can significantly alter the boarding process although perhaps temporarily.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 07:25 PM
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Some posters are writing about experiences on a Friday night.

We are discussing a Sunday morning flight.

I can remember taking a taxi from the St. Regis Grand on Sunday morning to Fiumicino and there was absolutely NO traffic.

Nada. Zilch.

Good luck,
Thin
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 07:46 PM
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I agree. It's Sunday morning. Nothing much happening and not much will even be open before 8 am. Totally different experience from leaving from CDG on a Thursday afternoon. Two hours will be plush.
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