Our trip home from Italy was frustrating, exhausting and very time consuming to say the least.
The short story: We were supposed to have left Rome at 2pm on Sunday, April 26th and arrive in Boston that night at 9pm (with a stop over in Newark, NJ and the time difference). Instead we arrived in Boston on Monday, April 27th at 11pm.
The long story (but not as long as it could be): We arrived at the airport in Rome at about 11:30am. After checking in and going to our gate we were told the flight would be delayed a half hour. After a gate switch we boarded the plane at approximately 2:30pm. As we walked onto the plane we noticed it was very cold. After an hour of sitting on the cold plane we were told that there was a problem with the air conditioning and wiring. We sat on the plane for another hour when they announced that it could not be fixed and needed a part to be replaced. Our flight was being cancelled for the day. By 5:30pm we were finally taking off the plane and bused to another area of the airport. Apparently, we sat on the plane for such a long time because they had no idea what to do with 150 passengers. It was very confusing at this point as to what was going on and what we needed to do as far as luggage, our duty free items and connecting flights that we had missed and needed to schedule for the next day’s flight.
At 7:00pm we were brought to a hotel and told that we needed to be in the hotel lobby the next morning at 5:30am to be brought back to the airport for a 9am flight. At this point we had not eaten all day. We had expected to be eating our lunch on the plane but since we never took off they did not provide lunch. I think they may have given us a snack and drink but that really didn’t do much. At the hotel they told us they would provide dinner so we all headed to the restaurant only to find out it did not open until 8pm. When they opened at 8pm they couldn’t handle all of us at once so they let in so many people and then locked the doors. We had to wait for the second shift to eat.
Monday morning we got up at 4am and caught the 5:30am bus back to the airport. The first shot above is us standing in line waiting to get into the airport. Apparently, the Continental check-in didn’t open until 7:30am! When they did finally open we were told the 9am flight had been rescheduled for 12pm. The kicker is that they knew this the night before but no one informed us of this at the hotel. I thought a fight was going to break out when they relayed this information to the group. It’s not good to tell people who haven’t had much sleep and have been standing in line for 2 hours that they are going to have to wait another 5 hours to get on their plane. Luckily, no fights broke out, although I did hear some shouting by a few people (I think they were the first class folks who were being treated the same as those of us in coach) but nothing came of it. Which is good since they have police with machine guns standing in the rafters. Kind of scary when you look up and see these guns pointing down at you. I would have taken a photo but I wasn’t positive that they wouldn’t have taken a shot me.
Anyway, this is getting longer than even I had expected so I’ll try to wrap it up. Our flight didn’t go off at 12pm as we had hoped but instead we ended up leaving at about 3pm. Why did it take 3 more hours to leave? Well, as you can see in the second photo there was a line of planes waiting for take off. What you see in this photo is about a 2 hour wait! The worst part was when they announced that there was going to be a delay because they needed to test the plane to make sure the new part was working. Okay, I think I would have been better off not knowing we were taking the same plane back to the US. Did they think I wouldn’t be sitting on the plane for 9 hours wondering if the part was going to work correctly?! Plus, we would be flying over the ocean so where would we detour to if there was an issue?!
I think we landed in Newark, NJ around 5:30pm(ish). I had a message from my parents wondering where we were. I called them right away to find out that they were never informed that the flight had been changed from 9am to 12pm (3pm actually). It seems the 9am flight was listed as having arrived in Newark. If only that had been true. Once in Newark we were told that the two connecting flights to Boston were full. I think I wanted to cry at this point. The next day was my birthday and I justed wanted to be home and in bed before then. We were put on standby for the 8pm flight and were not able to get on it. We were then put on standby for the 9:15pm flight and were lucky enough to be the last ones allowed on. My parents picked us up in Boston and I made it home at 12am in time for everyone to wish me a happy birthday. Then I crawled into bed and crashed for a few hours.
While it wasn’t the best experience flying home, and I may not fly Continental anytime soon, we did make it home safely and that’s what really counts. I was also grateful that it happened on the way back from Italy and not on the way over.