When we travel to far away destinations it is always a good idea to plan ahead and arrive at the airport in advance (national flights about 1hr 30min, while international flights 3hrs). For the international flights it may sound like you have to be in the airport for a long time before your flight takes off, but believe me sometimes it will take you all 3hrs to get through check-in, security and to your departure gate. A situation that can put this in perspective for you is the story of a Milan-Miami flight with Alitalia taken this past month.
Alitalia is not highly regarded as a company due to its bad customer service reputation and its history of bad management. Unfortunately Alitalia has some good deals and since money is a big factor for anyone who travels, it still gets considered as an option. The flight from Milan to Miami was not a direct flight; there was a vehicle/plane change in Newark, but the passenger’s e-ticket said Milan-Miami direct. The Alitalia booths in Milan were not open at 7:30 a.m. like all other booths there. They opened around 8:30 a.m. The flight for the US was to depart at 10:20 a.m., so you can imagine the passenger’s state of being. When Alitalia staff finally got there the passenger was told that the e-ticket had a problem because there was written Milan-Miami, but Alitalia had no direct flight to Miami on that day. Thanks to the passenger’s detailed orientation, they explained to the person assisting them that there would be a change of plane in Newark. The passenger had noticed that United Continental was going to Newark and told the Alitalia agent that they thought it was US Continental they were flying with. The Alitalia agent walked the passenger over to US Continental and explained the situation. The staff of United Continental found the ticket of the passenger, but there was something wrong with printing Alitalia’s stubs, which the company needed in order to issue the tickets to the passenger for departure. To make a long story short, what should’ve taken 15 minutes took about 2 hrs risking the passenger’s departure. At one point during this hectic situation the passenger was even asked to pay an extra fee so that United Continental could get the stubs from Alitalia that weren’t printing the way they should’ve.
This true story is a perfect example of why you should always read your ticket itinerary thoroughly; just in case the company makes a mistake, at least you’ll know where you’re supposed to be going. The tale also teaches us to arrive at check-in ahead of time, even if that means spending hours in the airport. It can take you only 30 minutes to check-in and get through security, but do you really want to risk it? The decision is yours of course, but do think twice before making up your mind on how early or late you want to get to the airport. Good luck!