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Report 981: The Old Man and Me - In Italy!

By Podie from Florida, Spring 2006

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Page 10 of 10: The Looooooonnnnnnng Trip Back

We finally awoke to a windy, drizzly morning. I liked to think Italy was sad we were leaving. It would be easier to leave in the rain than see the bright blue skies.

Massimo called with his apologies (many, many apologies!) but he couldn't get to the apartment before we left. We were both sorry we wouldn't see him again this trip, but maybe someday we can host him in Florida. And hopefully someday we'll rent the apartment again!

The driver from Roma Limo arrived promptly at 8 a.m. and we headed for the airport. I said a few words of Italian to the driver and was pleased when he thought I spoke Italian fluently. "Non parlo Italiano," I told him regretfully. He said (in English) that my accent had been so good, he was fooled. I explained that I'd grown up with Italian friends in New York City and heard it spoken every day, and he said I would probably get fluent very quickly if I tried.

Hmm, a goal to work toward before my next trip!

We arrived at FCO two hours before our scheduled departure and were dismayed at the seemingly mile-long line at the Delta counter. Our flight to Atlanta and one to JFK were leaving at almost the same time, yet there were few agents checking us in and it took us more than an hour to get through. Then I rushed to the IVA tax refund window and collected $25 back on my 174 euro purchase, bought our son a very overpriced T-shirt in the Ferrari shop, lost more money cashing in our unnecessary euro, and it was time to get on the plane.

Again, it was jammed. But this time, Delta annoyed everyone immediately by announcing that only the aft lavatories (three) could be used by the economy class passengers (about 184 of us) and due to "security concerns," anyone "congregating" in the lavatory area would be returned to his and her seat.

So, figuring that meant at least 60 per bathroom versus two bathrooms for only 20 business elite passengers, we were all grumbling early on. Then the Captain announced that there was an air strike in France (surprise!) and we would have to wait until the Delta computers assigned a new flight plan.

WHY did they put us on the plane at all? There were more bathrooms in the airport!

After an hour of waiting in the plane, the pilot came on and cheerily said, "Well, the good news is, we've got our new flight plan that avoids French airspace, but the bad news is, we have to wait for more fuel."

In the end, we left the ground almost two hours late. And an hour later, one of the aft lavatories stopped working. 184 Sardines using only two lavatories!

I was waiting for a bathroom when one of the flight attendants told me I had to return to my seat because I was standing in "her" galley and it was a security concern. I had already been in the line twice before and then asked to return to my seat so as to not block the galley. We had already eaten (and it was actually edible) so there was nothing going on in the galley, and I argued with the attendant to no avail.

In the end, I went to a different flight attendant, told her what had happened and she apologized and gave me a complaint form with that flight attendant's name. She also gave me extra (good) attention throughout the rest of the flight, and made sure no one bothered me as I waited for a lavatory.

I mailed the form to Delta in Atlanta airport ten days ago and haven't received a reply yet. Maybe because I said, "Once my Sky Miles are used up, you can kiss me goodbye." I meant it!

We arrived 90 minutes late, surprising since we left two hours late, flew south to the African coast to avoid French airspace, then north to the Greenland-Nova Scotia route, and then south to Atlanta. After clearing customs, we had 45 relaxing minutes before boarding our plane to Orlando.

In retrospect, it was one of the best trips I've had and we're already talking about our next one - and it WON'T be on Delta!

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