Alitalia should die, die, DIE!

So here I am, finally home after a nightmare trip that took more than 24 hours instead of the two it was supposed to last. Alitalia has been doing its best and more to make me wish they could die the horrible death they deserve as a completely fucked up airline (hope this is the beginning of a nice Google bombing).

Alitalia managed to piss me off on my way to Dublin already, with an aircraft change, two hours of delay and a flight that turned out to be free-seating given the different layout of the new airplane we got, but this was nothing compared to what happened yesterday. I went to the airport with more than two hours to kill and a smile on my face after a great Apachecon. The smile turned to a grin when I read the big “CANCELLED” sign on the timetable, and I noticed the line of people at the Alitalia desk. The bad got worse, though, given that the line was painfully slow: despite having maybe just fifteen people ahead, it took me more than two hours to finally reach the desk, where I was welcomed by smiling people that told me I had no chance to fly and I should have stayed overnight.

The problem is we were all well aware of what could have been the reasons for the cancellation: given the legal boundaires to airline strikes, the Alitalia personell has got the habit of calling in sick at the last minute so that the airline is unable to find someone to fill in, and the flight just can’t take off. As an alternative, Alitalia has the stupid custom of cancelling underbooked flights, not giving a damn about their customers of course. Whatever the reason was, though, I wasn’t willing to stay in Dublin since this would have meant having again a single chance of catching a flight back (the one and only that Alitalia flies every day), so I asked politely yet firmly for an alternative going through a larger hub. At 2.15PM the neurons of the desk attendant incredibly started to work, and I had a new route on a BMI flight leaving at 5.30PM, landing in London with more than an hour to spare before I could get my flight to Milan.

I went with Andrew, who joined me at the airport, to the BMI check in where we were puzzled about the line we should take. Choosing the one in front of the London-bound flight desk turned up as a bad choice, since that was supposed to be the line for business class travelers, while the line for the London flight was “of course” the one in front of the bag drop desk. Oh well, 30 minutes later I finally had a boarding pass and more than two hours to kill before I could start traveling, so I went to grab some food. After a quick pass at the usual airport junk, some shopping and the last Guinness at the airport bar taken as an excuse to watch a bit of the Argentina-Germany world cup match, I marched to the gate, to discover that my flight was going to be at least one hour late, which meant I was going to miss my connection. Panic kicked in: given that no one was attending the gate, and there was no such thing as an airline desk past the security gate, I rushed to the airport WLAN to find some number to call.

And no, it was not quite over: the WLAN gladly accepted my 5 Euros but constantly refused to log me in, which meant I had to resort to my wife from Italy to assist me in getting in touch with Alitalia. I called the Dublin offices, to no avail. Tried London, same result. Spoke, finally, with two italian operators from their customer service, who turned out to be (un)trained monkeys, the tell-tale sign being the “hmm… I can’t find your flight, can you please spell Heathrow for me, sir?” question I was asked. I was then told to go to the Alitalia offices since no one was picking up the phone but they were confident someone was manning the booth: this meant I had to get off the airport (of course the only way out was at the opposite end of the terminal, quite a hike away) and back in again.

The Alitalia desk was manned by the stupidest sample of a human being I met so far, who basically told me their computer system was down, and he had no way to get in touch with Heathrow to find an alternative for me, so the only option would have been flying to London anyway and take my problem to the London Alitalia offices in person. It was time to rush to the gate, so I went through security again and walked through the airport once more. The gate was finally manned when I got there, so I asked if the could help me somewhat. They called the Alitalia desk, and the idiot answering the phone asked them to send me back to their front office to find a solution, which meant I would have missed the London flight altogether. I figured out that statistics would have been on my side, and given the consistent lineup of idiots I met in Dublin to strike an even balance I might have had a chance to meet a Nobel prize at the London desk, so I decided to leave anyway and forget about Dublin altogether.

Of course we got to London with more than an hour and a half of delay, and when I switched my phone back on and called my wife who was monitoring the situation on the web for me, my Milan flight was just pulling off the gate (the one and only Alitalia flight who left in time, by the way). I went to the Alitalia offices, then, when I found someone who wasn’t quite a genius but could at least count to ten and seemed to have at least a vague understading of complex concepts such as “you screwed up my trip, now what?”. Since there were no other flights for the night, the only option I had was to sleep in London and leave the day after. Problem is it took more than an hour for the attendant to sort me and an another guy in the same situation out, and a good twenty minutes on a taxi to get to Brendford where we were supposed to stay for the night. At the hotel, we were told than being on an airline protection program, we were supposed to have dinner, and we should have been able to get some food in twenty minutes. Brendford must definitely be in some time-warp zone, since their twenty minutes turned out to be more like an hour and a half, which meant we had a fish and chips platter at midnight, with the wake-up call set up for 6.30AM the next morning.

You know, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, so after an uneventful night with just too little sleep, I went to the airport and everything seemed to work just fine: I had a boarding pass, and I was able to get through Terminal 2 security in less than five minutes, which is something to remember indeed. We also were boarded a mere five minutes late, so everything was nice and dandy. Then the “ladies and genteman, this is the captain speaking…” thing happened: we missed our slot, and we were supposed to wait for another 40 minutes at the gate. We finally pulled from the gate with more than an hour of delay, and it took us another half an hour to finally take off. Bottom line: I left the Burlington Hotel in Dublin at 11.30AM the day before, and I opened the door of my house at 3PM today. No less than 27 hours instead than the expected 6. And a lot of hate for Alitalia: it’s going to take a while before I fly with those guys again (say a couple of reincarnation cycles, to say the least).

Oh, did I mention I’m off to London on Monday with a flight at 6.35AM, which means I will hit the road again some 27 hours from now? Luckily enough, it’s not Alitalia this time, but I expect to crash back home on Monday night and spend the rest of the week recovering from hectic travel. Gosh, I want videoconferencing, and I want it NOW.

Comments

comments

12 thoughts on “Alitalia should die, die, DIE!”

  1. ah, now that is bad. We left apachecon at 1730, dublin by 1815 (very agressive taxi driver), plane at 2045 and home (BRS) by 10:20, including taking the windy back route home just to show my travelling partner the secret route to/from the airport that only cyclists know about.

    Videconferencing, yeah, you need an HP Halo room. We are getting one put in. Wall to wall plasma displays backed by network capacity bought with low-latency QoS guarantees. Immersively nice.

  2. Alitalia, you still flying Alitalia? Rayanair, costs about the half (and to Dublin was a quite expensive Rayanair flight, to other destinations they have really aggressive prices), got an hour of delay on return flight, but actually the plane from Italy arrived late so maybe it is not their fault, you choose the food you want and pay for it accordingly (better than eating that ‘WTF is this’ stuff and have no idea how much you paid for it, while a Ryanair quite tasty hot dog + coke was 4.50 euros), airplanes are quite barebone, but actually new and clean (as opposed to my last alitalia airplane, with gray tape everywhere)… it’s a public company anyway, ever found a public company that actually works?

  3. I couldnt agree with you more! I just got back today and had every single problem possible!! They lost my luggage at my holiday desitnation and then also on my return to London!! I sit here now waiting for a call from Alitalia to tell me whats going on. I was actually trying to get another number for them (as the desk wont answer the phone!) when I came across your site.

    I have vowed never ever to fly with them again. Dont care what I have to pay or what I have to do…not going there again!!

  4. Same here, looking for an alternate number for Alitalia. Left 5 messages over the past two days about our lost luggage and no one has called us back. Their online baggage tracking services doesn’t work on top of it!!!

    This after a trip that started with my wife and I going to pick up our electronic tickets before the flight and being told that only one was available. The other one had already been printed but they were willing to sell me another one for the same price ($1000!)so I could get on the flight with my wife! I’ve rarely gotten so angry and aggravated by such an incompetent company. I had a receipt for two electronic tickets purchased together and stating to pick them up at the check-in desk before our departure and these idiots are telling me I have to purchase another one because was printed. I had to escalate the thing through the roof for nearly 2 and a half hours until a manager for Alitalia finally discovered they had made an error…

    Let’s not even talk about being forced to check all carry-on bags and then finding out that half the people on our trans-Atlantic flight hadn’t been required to do so…

    Worst Airline Company! Sorry I had to vent the frustration…

  5. On August 6th 2006 I took a flight from Brussels International Airport to Milan (MXP) with flight AZ155 and a connected flight from Milan to Mehrabad Airport ( Tehran – Iran ) with flight AZ 754. My luggage number is :AZ 122743.

    My file reference number that I received at Mehrabad Airport is: THRAZ 16469

    My luggage never arrived at Mehrabad Airport ( Tehran – Iran ).

    My luggage has a light brown color, it has 2 straps to close it, one of the straps is damaged (it doesn’t close well). The luggage closes with a zipper and the zipper is locked with a small lock. There is not address tag on my luggage.

    Here are my personal information, if my luggage has arrived, you can deliver it to this address. Or for further information you can call my cell or fixed number.

    Reza Nasrin

    NO 414 _ PIROOZY avenue

    HAMEDAN _IRAN

    Cell: 0098-918-111-9258

    Home: 0098-811-8273655

    When I arrived at Mehrabad Airport on August 6th I went to “baggage claim” to report my lost luggage, there they made up a file for me, “Property Irregularity Report (P.I.R.)”. My file reference number that I received at Mehrabad Airport is: THRAZ 16469

    During the period of 10 days I called Mehrabad Airport several times to check if my luggage arrived. In that period a friend of mine also called the following number for me: Lost & Found Brussels Airport: Tel. +32 (0) 2-723.08.40, this number asks to enter an 8-digit number, which I don’t have neither has my friend. So, this could not help me either. In the meanwhile I went to Mehrabad in person to ask more information about my lost luggage.

    After 10 days, on August 17th , I went Alitalia Company – Bank Tejarat Building , Argentina Square in Tehran where I had a meeting with Mr Farid, personnel in charge. Mr Farid took a copy of my passport, my tickets and also a copy of the P.I.R. which I made up with the personnel from “baggage claim” at Mehrabad Airport ( Tehran – Iran ). Mr Farid kept the original of that complain letter and gave me a copy. Also I gave Mr Farid a list of all my personal belongings that were inside my lost luggage. Then Mr Farid told me to wait for 55 days, if my luggage wasn’t found within those 55 days I had to go back and he said that they would pay me “something like” 60 dollar per kilogram that was in my luggage.

    I can’t wait for 55 days and hope that Alitalia will do everything to find my luggage back! I paid for my ticket, I paid to use the service of Alitalia. The value of my luggage is more worth to me then the money that Alitalia offers. It has an emotional value which is not possible to pay back in money!

    With this letter I would like to ask you to give me up-to-date information about my luggage, to give me a clear view on my file. What is my file reference number with Alitalia? Also give me the file reference number that I can use at the World Tracer. Because now I have nothing!

    Thank you for your attention and I hope that I can receive my luggage soon.

    Sincerely,

    Reza Nasrin

    NO 414 _ PIROOZY avenue

    HAMEDAN _IRAN

  6. Alitalia?? Well my story is not quite as bad as yours but it sure sucks!

    July 2005 flight booked from London Heathrow to Milan – Milan Bombay.
    Monsoon season – flight cancelled the night before, but NOBODY told me.

    I check in as normal in London, so far so good.
    I get to Milan – FLIGHT CANCELLED!!

    I was a guest of a family in Bombay,so when they offered me an alternative flight to Delhi, which is approximately 700 miles away it was like offering me Florida if I wanted to go to NYC!!

    I was also told that the next flight to Bombay was full but that I would be able to go on standby 3 or 4 days later.

    The first definitive place I was offered was for 3rd August and as my annual leave ended 6th August that was also no alternative.

    I asked Alitalia for compensation for the flight and other expenses I had in connection with my holiday.

    £101 for the necessary inoculations
    £18 for malaria tablets
    £55 for the VISA to enter India.

    My friend’s aunt is the travel agent I booked the flight with (in India), so I had to send them my tickets for the refund and guess what they said???

    They WILL refund me 800 rupees – approx 7 GBP!!!!! and do you know why? Cos part of my ticket was used to get to Milan, even though I have expleined that I found out about the flight being cancelled when I got to bloody Milan!!

    I want to go and see someone in the Alitalia offices in London, can anyone help with locations and how to get booked in for an appointment??

    thanks,

    Anna

  7. On May 8 I flew from Dublin to Palermo with Alitalia. Arrived near midnight, to find they had lost my bag. Tried to report loss with two officials. None spoke English and I do not speak Italian. Joined the lost luggage queue. Forty minutes later I was still in the queue. Had booked a taxi and he was threatening to leave. Had to take taxi to reach destination. Reported loss two days later. Spent a week in Sicily with no clothes, and no help from Alitalia. Back in Ireland, tried to contact lost luggage dept. in Hampton to no avail. They do not answer phones. Left phone messages. Not returned. Sent emails. Not answered. Wrote letters. Not answered. Sent letters and invoices to Hampton and Rome. Not answered. Got travel agent to ring them. They did not return her calls. Told me she had never experienced anything like it in her life. Emailed
    Italian Embassy in Dublin to complain. At last! A
    phone call from lost luggage! At last! The sound of a human voice, not a machine. However, the human voice said Alitalia would not compensate me for the loss because I did not report the loss on arrival at Palermo. Telling the voice I had spent forty minutes in a queue trying to do just that did not impress the human voice either.
    I am taking Alitalia to the Small Claims Court. I urge anyone reading this, avoid this company like the plague.

  8. AVOID AVOID AVOID!!!!!! Unfortunately I didn’t research Alitalia too much before booking a flight back in May from Boston to Palermo. Made it to Sicily OK, but the trip back took almost 24 hours, cancelled flight caused delay in PMO of 8 hours, rerouted through Rome, London and finally to Boston – very late. Their website shows compensation due – printing it is one thing, actually collecting is another. We’re on our third customer “service” agent in NY. Time to call the lawyers – even if it costs more to sue than we’re getting.

  9. Hello. if you have documentation of your problems with the airline, please forward your name & contact info to suealitalia@gmail.com

    We are going to attempt to put a class action suit together. If you know of anyone else that has had problems and can prove it, please let them know as well

  10. Flying Alitalia is one of the easiest ways of looking for trouble. Want your bagages lost, stolen and destroyed, and expect zero compensation? Want to deal with the most rude personnel? Want to have your certified letter claims unanswered? If you answer YES to any of these questions, go ahead, fly Alitalia!!!

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