Stuck in FCO for 10 hours

Help. Our flight on Alitalia from FCO to MAD was cancelled. We have been placed on a later flight which will mean spending more than 10 hours at FCO. (We are flying in from JFK at the end of February). Alitalia tells us we cannot leave the airport during that time. More precisely, they say that we have to ask at FCO but leaving usually isn't allowed. The flight change means we will miss our small sightseeing window in Madrid because we fly on to Sevilla early the next morning so it would be some consolation to be able to see a bit of Rome. Can an airline REALLY hold you hostage in an airport like that??

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

That doesn't make any sense at all. As long as you have a boarding pass for the leg to Madrid, there would be no way to keep you from just walking out. The train into Rome is about 30 minutes and you could easily return a couple hours early to clear security especially if you do not have any luggage. I would not worry about it and just do it. You would have a good five to six hours in Rome.

Posted by NANCY
Boston area, MA, United States
3 posts

Thanks, Frank. I think that's exactly what we will do. Dealing with Alitalia customer service is always ....such fun

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Precisely why I would not fly Alitalia.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Your flight to Madrid is an intra-Schengen flight, there is no passport control to that flight, so Alitalia can't even control where you go. The only downside is that if by any possible reason you don't make it to the gate on time, you lose your ticket to Madrid, and maybe have the other legs of your flight cancelled as well (not because it's Alitalia, but because it's the usual practice or airlines). If you decide to visit Roma, buy a retunr ticket to the airport already, and be sure you check the departure times of the Leonardo Express back from Roma Terimini to Fiumicino.

Posted by NANCY
Boston area, MA, United States
3 posts

Thank you, Andre. You would think the Alitalia customer service rep would know this. I am truly puzzled about why he was so insistent that we likely would not be allowed to leave.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

Probably, because if she told you not leave and you miss the plane, she cannot be blame. But if she said you could and you miss the plane, there are people who would blame her. It is call, CYA. Normally it lay over of five hours that cause the problem. You think you should time to do something but your really don't. Depending on time of day, generally late afternoon, the airport can get backed up but with no luggage two hours should be adequate. The L. Express runs every half hour. I think is .20 and .50 But it doesn't make any difference as it is always the same.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2504 posts

Alitalia is a partner with Delta, I suggest you call Delta to find out if there is a rule against leaving the airport. I was told the same thing, about 15 years ago, when I had a 9-hour layover in Rome on the way to Istanbul. I know that if a passenger misses a connecting flight, there's a possible delay for that flight (and all the passengers) while checked luggage is removed from the plane. It may have something to do with security at this particular airport.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

Remember you'll have to clear customs if you wish to leave the airport which generally means you have to have your luggage with you. Which means you have to re-check it. You can see where this is going..... If you where coming from another EU country this wouldn't be an issue but direct from the US - oh dear. Frank is correct about training into Rome for a short tour but I think the passing through customs thing will be the deal breaker. Buy an Airline Club day pass and go with the flow. Some clubs have showers so freshen up, hydrate, chill. A 10 hour layover is bad enough after a long flight. If my take on this is incorrect please please post your experience on this site so we can all gain from your actual experience. Happy travels.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

If your luggage is checked through, you do NOT have to pick it up if leaving the airport. People on long layovers in Frankfurt leave the airport on a regular basis to visit the city. It is one of the most common questions on Trip Advisor. How to visit Frankfurt while on a layover. Airports can't make you stay there, they could care less where you are, as long as you are back in time for your next flight. The only time it would make a difference is if you are a citizen from a country that doesn't automatically give you an entry visa to the country where your layover is located. So, travelers from India, would have to stay airside while on their way to the US if they have a layover in the EU, as they don't have visas for the EU.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

So if Jo in Frankfurt is correct and I'm a terrorist (which I AM NOT) I just check my bag through to say Madrid and get off in Frankfurt on a long lay over? Why am I afraid this could be true.... Then again it could get back to that whole thing where you don't get back in time, your boarding pass isn't validated prior to takeoff and the airline has to remove your luggage. Hummmmmm

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

Jo in Frankfurt is correct. The airline knows whether a passenger shows up for the second leg of their flight. They scan your boarding pass when you get on the flight. If you were a no show for your connecting flight, they would know this and they could pull your luggage off. They would also cancel the rest of your itinerary.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

Marie, you are way over thinking this without reading the original question. There is no customs or immigrations since she is going from Rome to Madrid. It is a local flight. I think Alitalia is being overly cautious. As long as you allow adequate time for the Madrid connection you will be find. Absolutely no way to prevent you or anyone else from leaving the airport.

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

They are blowing smoke. If you have been rescheduled to another flight later on, then it is just a normal 10 hour layover. You certainly can leave the airport and come back, so long as you go through security and have the proper visas (which obviously you do in this case). There may be some situations where this might not be a good idea, for example a mechanical delay where they decide at hour 2 of 10 to swap out the aircraft instead of wait until the 10th hour, but if your flight number has changed then there is no way that new flight is leaving early. So, go into Rome. Also, who did you buy your ticket through? You may want to call them directly and ask if there is another way that they can accommodate you to your final destination. Have you checked to make sure that the flight really, honestly was cancelled (and that you simply are no longer on the flight)? I've had airlines swap numbers, but still run the same flight (in terms of departure and destination) and been able to get on that flight instead of going with whatever their computer shuffled me to.

Posted by Tania
Halton, Ontario, Canada
105 posts

There are different kinds of transport in and out of the FCO into Rome. Check the Roninrome website, he has an extensive list of what is available, from which location in Rome, with a generalized time schedule and pricing list. Good luck!

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Marie: Don't you think your security issue has already been pondered by those who get paid to think about this stuff for a living? Not that it necessarily makes anyone safer...my take is that much of what actually ends up hassling travelers is mostly for show and is a total joke, while measures that actually would make flying safer are ignored due to cost (like scanning all freight on every flight, which isn't done now and freight is on every passenger flight or making sure Turkish Airlines' pilots can speak English, the international language for flight operations worldwide, to reduce their recent crashes and mishaps). Nevertheless, Frank's right about you overthinking this. And, Jo is right about how it all works at the airfield.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

My feeling exactly. Once I was having lunch in an up scale restaurant behind security in an airport. I have a regular, metal, fork and spoon but a nearly worthless, plastic knife. From my seat I could see through the swinging kitchen doors. Behind the doors was a wall of various size chef knives. I am sure there were not plastic. Outside the window a large Budget rental truck was boxes of supplies for the restaurant. Wonder who screened all those boxes? Most of TSA is CYA show so they can claim that they did their job if something goes wrong.