Tuesday, March 31, 2015


If it's Tuesday,
It must be Rome


A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I flew from the States to Israel via Rome's FCO (a/k/a Leonardo da Vinci International) airport.

Then, the transfer from one flight to another was relatively painless.

Not, mind, "painless,' but relatively.

    I don't understand why a traveler arriving on an international flight and immediately - within an hour or three - has to exit the international terminal, go through hand-carry and body inspection, and then RETURN TO THE SAME TERMINAL

    This in SOP (par for the (con)course) at Heathrow, Madrid, and Rome, but not in Amsterdam - or at least it wasn't the last time I passed through.

In their (questionable) wisdom, the Italians managed to compound the foolishness. Perhaps that's why Rome fell.

Leonardo da Vinci International terminal map

At FCO, I was forced to take a shuttle "train" from the arrival terminal to the hand-carry and personal recheck.

The tram was only part of the obstacle course. Add escalators/stairs. (Yes, to be fair, there were elevators, but the wait times …)

When I finally got to the recheck I practically had to disrobe. Shoes off. Belt off. Baseball cap off, Empty pockets of everything, including tissues.

All to save a few bucks

I could have spent a few more dollars ($105 to be exact) and flown from FLL to PHI to TLV, but I've traveled through Philly before. Any inclement weather and it's down to one runway for arriving and departing flights - translation: delays and missed flights are commonplace. IN THE FUTURE, all things being nearly equal, I'll take my chances with PHI.

I have, over the course of my flying "career" been to a number of airports.

I will avoid at all costs Paris (CDG). Unless you speak a good French, you may never get out of the airport.

Miami (MIA) is "OK" and, I think, getting better, but it's focused on the dollar. WiFi is not free.

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) is not in either city - it's in Dania Beach - but it's relatively easy to navigate, has free WiFi, and plenty of TSA lines, including the expedited pre-check for most airlines.

Tampa (TPA) is laid out as a wheel, with trams to each terminal. With moving walkways, it's not bad, but still there are times when there is a long hike.

Madrid (MAD) is, like FCO, spread out and requires long, usually "quick march" hikes from arrival and departure gateways.

Barcelona (BCN) is a far better transfer point than MAD, but most of my flights have been via MAD.

Kennedy (JFK) is one of my least favorite airports, but it ranks far above CDG. In my opinion, EVERY airport is better than CDG.

FCO, once a stop to recommend, has lost my vote. Even its WiFi was down when I needed to send a message to the folks who would meet my flight when it landed in Lod (TLV).

    I'm a relative "old timer" at Israel's primary international airport. It was Lod (load) back then and it's Lod today. It's not in Tel Aviv and the politician whose name it now bears ordered his commander (Yitzhak Rabin) to kill fellow Jews aboard the ship Altalena.

TLV is a better than many international airports. Free WiFi that works, Moving walkways that never go far enough, but they do eliminate some steps. Passport control can be slow, even through there are many lines for both Israeli and foreign passport holders. LEAVING TLV means long, long lines, but unless there is a problem, most lines move along fairly smoothly.

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