Most would consider a four hour wait at an airport (particularly for a short haul flight) to be overkill – but when a situation arose for me to spend twelve hours at Fiumicino, I took it. Whilst I won’t be taking up the chance again any time soon, it definitely allowed me a different perspective on what is, undoubtedly my favourite airport.
I was set to fly from Rome to Gatwick with easyJet at the end of August last year. My last holiday, in what feels like a lifetime. Coincidentally my aunt and uncle had booked on the same day for an earlier flight. Rather than put myself through the hassle of coaches, I opted to hitch a ride with them in their hire car.
With their flight departing at 10am, we got to the airport around 7 o’clock. Waving them goodbye, everything was all set for a long day in Terminal 3. I was rather impressed with the landside retail offering – and being my usual self went on the hunt for a good view of the airfield.
There’s a café on the first floor of T3 which, as well as churning out coffees at an alarmingly fast rate, also has a decent (not excellent) view of all three runways. I spent around 8 hours in this café – the staff must’ve been wondering if I even had a flight to catch at all…
As well as watching my aunt and uncle’s flight depart, countless Alitalia flights came and went – and me being the geek I am, I tracked every single one of them. I sat there in anticipation as the Emirates A380 came in from Dubai. It truly looked like a feat of engineering as it glimmered in the Italian sun. I watched it land, and I watched it depart. By this point any flight I saw headed for London I longed to be on.
After having consumed seemingly ten times the recommended daily dose of caffeine, finally came check-in. Up until now, whilst I’d been bored out of my mind, nothing had gone too wrong. Somehow it had completely slipped my mind that the laptop I’d brought with me couldn’t go in the hold – with a 15 inch laptop and a bag very much not compatible in its current form for a laptop, my only option was to carry it.
No problem, or so I thought. It eventually hit me as I passed through security – easyJet likely wouldn’t be too pleased with an extra item being carried on board. Here came my only downfall with Fiumicino… Terminal 3 prides itself on its ‘tax free mall’. A vast array of designer shops dotted around the place, with Gucci, Armani, Bulgari just to name a few. This had always seemed odd to me what with easyJet passengers flowing through it, but now, when I eagerly searched for a duty free carrier bag to get past the easyPolice with my laptop, luck wasn’t working in my favour.
I frantically searched for two hours to try and find a ‘WH Smith’-esque shop – all to no avail. Completely confident I’d be forced to do it anyway, I jammed the laptop into my bag. Ripping the zip off with it.
As I got to the gate the same check-in manager who’d earlier told me to remove my laptop was there commencing boarding. We had a brief chat – talking about the absolute importance of keeping lithium batteries out of the hold – and this gentleman whilst harsh in his tone was an absolute credit to easyJet. It cannot be stressed enough how crucial it is to keep safety first at all times. Harshness is sometimes necessary – complacency and safety don’t go hand in hand!
I’ll be writing about the dangers of lithium batteries soon, but until then – I very much recommend you do NOT spend 12 hours at Fiumicino nor any other airport for that matter.
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