Fiumicino, the Gateway to Hell

[Week 50] Welcome home, me.
[Week 50] Welcome home, me.
I recently made the statement that the universe decided I had to experience everything Italy has to offer, and of course I got just that. The nightmare of all travelers everywhere— lost luggage and a ‘disappeared’ flight. What’s worse, lost luggage in an airport that absolutely does not give a flying baguette of care about you or any of your fellow passengers, Fiumicino.

Our WizzAir flight W6 2339 arrived in Fiumicino at 11:57am, three minutes early. It was all going well until we reached our luggage belt, carousel number 8, and saw the horde of people gathered around it. As a Fiumicno veteran, this to me was nothing new. I resigned myself to the usual meditation exercises I practice so as not to shove peoples faces into the moving belt for shoving me around. Is it so hard to say ‘excuse me’?

It was around 45 minutes later when I realized something was wrong. The people from the Amsterdam and Paris flights were still mulling around the luggage belt, many of them on summer break or on honeymoons. A group of Dutch girls were having fun filming the luggage belt as it turned round and round, excitedly laughing whenever a bag similar to their own came. Little did they know.

 

An hour after landing. No bags. The Dutch girls have given up on their filming and were now dejectedly standing by the edge of the belt. What a wonderful start to their holiday.

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An hour and fifteen minutes. No bags. A long-haired Italian man beside me was eloquently apologizing to his girlfriend, who was apparently waiting outside customs. A lot of cursing Fiumicino and Italian workers was involved.

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We, WizzAir passengers, decided that maybe we were at the wrong belt, and trouped to the main screen together. Nope, we were at the right belt. The Italian members of our group stopped two fluorescent-vest clad Fiumicino employees and asked what was happening. The employees shrugged and said just wait. The bags will come.

We went back to carousel number 8 and lo and behold, our “Budapest” was gone! At this point, the crass Italian lady from my previous post sprung into action. She cornered the nearest Fiumicino staff member and demanded to know what the hell was going on. She added a few curses for good measure, and a lot of my favourite Italian hand gesture. The Fiumicino employee said the same thing, just wait, the luggage will come. But she was having none of it, she shouted that our flight was no longer on any of the monitors— what happened? Said Fiumicino staff shrugged, and walked away. I tell you the only match for an angry Italian woman is an indifferent Italian man.

The loud angry Italian lady is to the left, in heels. I was grateful for her fiery personality in the end.
The loud angry Italian lady is to the left, in heels. I was grateful for her fiery personality in the end.

So we waited. Our flight came back on the screen.

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And waited.

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We were there so long that we moved all the way off the screen. The French and Dutch people gone, we were now alone at the belt.

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It was now two hours past the time we landed. Children were crying, and the long-haired Italian man may have just broken up with his girlfriend. The lady in the multi-coloured pants to the left of the photo was physically abusing her husband, to the horror of their two young boys. No one had any bags.

I decided to take a look behind carousels 9 and 10, where they usually leave ‘bulky,’ boxy, or otherwise unclaimed luggage. (You can tell I’m used to this airport’s terrible, terrible ways.)

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Three hours and thirty minutes into the ordeal. I had been staring at the floor for a good long while. I felt like crying. I was helpless and alone in a place where they didn’t even bother to help people of their own nationality who spoke their language. I asked for a help desk and I was told to ‘go outside’. A fellow non-Italian passenger also tried to ask for help, but was brusquely rebuffed with a ‘no English’.

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Our flight, W6 2339 from Budapest has disappeared. Who knows where it went? No one of course.

At this point I had spent four miserable hours in Fiumicino. I was frustrated and alone, and all I wanted to do was go back to my own bed. I lost sight of my fellow flight-mates and our flight W6 2339 had officially been erased from all screens, a very strange phenomenon and my first encounter of such an action. Teetering on the edge of tears, I went to the lost baggage counter and filed a claim. The lady gave me a paper to fill out then left. She left, and then there was no one.

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I waited, telling myself I would not give anyone the satisfaction of my tears, until finally someone from the same flight saw me at the counter. He told me that they were just told that the airport had made a “change” and that our bags were now being sent to a “new” carousel, number 11. The moment I stepped up to it I saw my poor battered suitcase rolling my way. Quick dash through customs, quick grab of a taxi outside, and finally, home.

* all photos taken with my trusty HTC One, a long-time suffering phone that holds its own even when its owner abuses it by taking depressing Rome photos.

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