Newest Review: ... to consider. I'm not big on writing thousands of words, and I wouldn't really want to read that many about an airport, so here's the ... more
When in Rome.....be prepared to queue!
Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
Member Name: bamamo
Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
Advantages: Can get you pretty much anywhere in the world, train station attached
Disadvantages: Long queues, surly staff who cause delays, long wait for bags, not much shopping
I was surprised to see that past reviews of Rome's Fiumicino airport (FCO) had dubbed it as a top-class airport. I also noted that these reviews were mostly pretty old, with the newest being over six months old and the rest several years. I didn't read these reviews, and I'm not sure how much experience these people have had with the airport. Personally, I hate to read a review on an airline or airport which someone has only visited one time. No matter how detailed, I'll generally consider it not useful (and sometimes avoid rating at all in an attempt to be nice if they've clearly made an effort) just because they can vary so much journey to journey. The staff, the flights being late, the weather, anything can affect how an airport or airline operates, and I don't find it fair to judge on just one trip.
If I had written this review after my first encounter with Rome's Fiumicino airport, I undoubtedly would have given it a glowing report. Now? Not so much...I have now flown in and out of FCO about five times this year, and more often than not have encountered some kind of delay or problem, as have my friends both Italian and British who I've discussed it with. Apparently in Italy the airport is kind of a running joke.
Writing a review about an airport, as I said, is not easy as things are changeable and there are so many aspects to consider. I'm not big on writing thousands of words, and I wouldn't really want to read that many about an airport, so here's the main points good and bad I think you should be aware of if planning to travel to Fiumicino.
First of all, Rome has two airports and this is the main hub. The other, Ciampiano, tends to cater for low-cost airlines, although not all of ours from the UK, Jet2 being one which flies into FCO. If you're arriving at FCO, then lucky you, it couldn't be easier to get into Rome. Attached to the terminal building is a railway station which will take you to Rome's main station, Termini, in about half an hour. At present tickets are 11 euro, which is expensive compared to other rail tickets in Italy, but a lot cheaper than a taxi. These trains are often packed and there isn't a lot of space for luggage, but everyone's in the same boat and it's not so bad! Trains run every half-hour.
When you arrive at the airport, there is normally a pretty long walk to immigration, where the lines move quickly but the staff aren't the friendliest. It generally takes 5-10 minutes for an EU citizen to clear the queue. Baggage reclaim is not always such a piece of cake. FCO is a busy airport, and obviously deals with a lot of bags. As such, they assign each flight landing a time slot of about 20 minutes during which its bags will appear on the belt. Should a flight be delayed, you will have to wait, perhaps an exceedingly long time, for your bags to arrive. Should you be early, you will still have to wait until your appointed time slot for your bags. A friend of mine waited three hours recently for his bag after his flight missed their time slot!
General cleanliness of the airport is hit and miss, with toilets ranging from clean to appalling, and often overflowing rubbish bins.
Don't expect the return journey to be plain sailing either. This is mainly down to the fact that ground staff at FCO are their own, rather than representatives from individual airlines. I've arrived to check in to find no queue at all (a bit baffling if I'm honest), and similarly had to wait
an hour and a half after check in should have opened. At this point I realised that the air conditioning is sorely lacking. More often than not, check in is late. The staff I've dealt with haven't been terribly polite.
Security, similarly, can be plain sailing or a queue all the way to the building's door. Once you get to the taped-off area and start to put your things in trays, it doesn't get that much faster, partly due to the Italians' national pastime of queue-jumping. You then need to go through passport control again, which can be incredibly slow on this end leading to major traffic jams as there really isn't enough room in this area.
There isn't a vast amount of shopping for such a major airport, but I have usually been so rushed and harassed by hold-ups in queues at this point I haven't had time to browse! There aren't a lot of places to get a drink or something to eat, even buying snacks in the newsagent is limited.
Lastly, a note for any of you flying on airlines which allow you to print your own boarding pass. Don't think just because the ticket says you can proceed straight to security if you're just bringing carry on, it means it. For Jet2 at least, this is a generic ticket wording, and FCO aren't equipped to scan them. On my last journey, this caused a three-hour delay sitting in the plane, in blistering heat (on my birthday!), while a ground staff member who was sent to fetch a passenger list turned off his phone and ignored us! How's that for taking your job seriously? While I realise its probably an issue Jet2 need to deal with in terms of ticket wording, surely FCO have realised by now that they ought to say something instead of letting people through with these useless home-printed passes.
Overall, FCO is a major hub which, yes, can get you to pretty much anywhere you want to go, but just don't expect to get out of there on time. On a good day, it can be efficient if a little surly, on a bad day, which are all too common, horrendous! My advice to you, for your return flight ARRIVE EARLY, because if the queue is going to be awful anyway, you don't want to be at the back of it.
Summary: I'm stuck using FCO for my frequent trips to Italy, but can't say I enjoy it!
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