16 January 2011

Adventures of a Flying Friar

Another friar and I shared a taxi to Rome's airport on the morning of Dec 18th.  We got out at Terminal 3, the "local flights" terminal.  Took me a few minutes to realize that I had to be in Terminal 5, the international terminal.  Long wait for the shuttle bus. . .arrived at T5 to find the place largely empty.  Quickly got to the Delta counter for check-in.  

Once there I was told that the flight to Atlanta was overbooked.  The clerk offered me a travel voucher to switch my reservation from Delta to an Alitalia flight arriving in Boston.  I was told that this flight would get me to Memphis 30 mins earlier than my original flight.  I took the voucher and waited for the clerk to switch my reservation.  All this done, I was told that the Alitalia flight was departing from Terminal 3.  

Back to T3 where I was greeted by thousands of passengers waiting in what counts as "lines" in Italy.  After about an hour waiting in line, I asked one of the clerks on the floor if we would be able to depart on time.  She informed me that all the flights to the US were delayed by two hours.  Great.  She then told me that I was in the wrong line for Boston.  Another hour in the "Boston line."  In the next thirty minutes or so the "Boston line" was shifted twice to different desks.  At one point, the throngs of American students in front of me grew very, very agitated.  Turns out that Alitalia was charging passengers for overweight/extra bags.  My checked bag cost me 100 euro!

We arrived in Boston twenty mins before my Memphis flight was due to depart.  When I went to check in, the clerk said, "Mr. Powell, you're late."  I responded--in a flat, "don't mess with me" tone--"No, your plane was late."  He tells me that I probably won't make the Memphis flight and offers to shift me to a later flight going through Atlanta.  I say, "No.  Put me on the plane to Memphis."  He escorts me to security and I rush through, practically running to the gate.  I arrive at the gate, sweaty, winded, and oh-so-aggravated.  

The clerk there tell me that the plane has pushed back from the gate.  I keep my cool. . .barely.  The clerk must've noticed my resolve not to go postal b/c she politely rearranged my reservation and offered her personal cell phone so I could call my dad and let him know that I was going to arrive in Memphis four hours late.  As she handed me my new boarding pass, the clerk tells me that she's bumped me to first class and included two meal vouchers for the airport.  This flight marks the first time I was ever flown first class in some thirty-five years of flying!  

We arrived in Memphis on time.  My mom and older niece were there waiting for me. . .Deo gratis!

The lesson:  never accept an offer from an American airline to switch your reservation to an Italian airline.  Never. 

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->


  1. Anonymous8:09 AM

    That almost happened to me one time till I reminded them the weight limits were different for international vs domestic. Someone would have been eating the $180! Not sure if they try to do that on purpose or what. Glad you made it!

  2. Father, I'm curious to know if you flew in your habit. If so, it clearly didn't do you any good on the Italian side of things. . .

  3. sekman8:51 AM

    I would seriously suggest that you speak with American Airlines regarding your 100 Euro baggage fee. I would not be surprised if the agree to reimburse for what you paid.

  4. And I thought Ryanair was bad!!
    Hope you have a good time in La

  5. sekman1:06 PM

    Father, I understand you ended up flying Alitalia but if they gave you a voucher for Alitalia and you had to pay Alitalia the outrageous fees the orignal airline should have to cover those fees so long as they don't charge the same fees.

  6. Father, Very interesting. I admire your resolve. Delta seems to be the problem.I avoid Delta and Northwest.
    Jan. 8 I flew from Terminal 3 at Fiumicino to LAX. The kind Italians working the desk for British Air made me go to two different desks only. I was charged 150 Euro for a bike box. Thankfully the airport was empty with small lines. I arrived LAX smoothly.

  7. Lynn, I didn't wear my habit. It's a bit wieldy for seating on planes. Besides, priests in Italy get no special treatment. . .if anything, we get treated worse!

    Sekman, the voucher was from Delta to fly on Delta at a later date.