Saturday, October 14, 2017

The getting there: yet another challenge

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   My last blog post may have given my readers the idea that they should join me and book Alitalia for flights to Italy, however let me dissuade you of that notion.

   I regret that domestic and international travel is not a fun experience in 2017, and the challenge of “getting there” includes the “getting back,” but then I can only make the following commentary per my recent horrendous travel experience inbound from Rome to JFK on Alitalia’s AZ610 and outbound JFK to Rome on Alitalia’s AZ609. When I found myself not only coping with the “security” checks, I was astonished to find that Alitalia’s control of confirmed tickets with seat choice” can be effected by “overbooking” necessitating a “last minute” change of aircraft,” because US DOT joins with the European Commission to negate “the international airlines” requirement to notify passengers that their “confirmed seats” have been arbitrarily changed.

   For instance, from my observations during my 2 trips on Alitalia (in May from JFK to Naples and on September 30 from JFK to Treiste), I have found this airline regularly violates passenger right to keep their confirmed chosen seats by abrogating consideration of “health issues” when determining whether outbound/inbound download boarding passes with seat choice will be honored—Alitalia mandates manually issued boarding passes at time of departure requiring all passengers to wait on line for checkin before security allows passenger to outbound/inbound gates. Additionally, where there was a “last minute” change of aircraft due to overbooking, in each case the plane load of passengers were subject to the power of the gate personnel to “effect” a change of seat even if a health issue exists, which isn’t a good thing for elderly passengers who book flights with Alitalia.  
   Sadly US DOT does not regulate foreign airlines like Alitalia or mandate the number of “non-stop” flights by US airlines who would honor passengers’ seat choice when flying outbound/inbound to/from Italy—for example American Airlines, who does honor confirmed ticket passenger seat choice, has 1 direct flight to Rome daily, but return to US is so early in the a.m. a passenger would need to spend an additional day in Rome to catch the flight back to US soil  on the following day.

   As well, in 2017 when “comfort travel” is no longer a “certainty” internet search engines are putting 3rd party travel sites like Expedia at the top and in-between the list re your flight inquiries, and it becomes more difficult to find a full list of familiar airlines flying out of your departure airport.  For a much more dependable airline experience than I had when I flew to Italy on Alitalia, you can take the time to see if it is possible fly your favorite airline either for domestic or international travel.  Contact the "Airport Authority" where the "outbound" airlines flies to the destination.
   In NYC, *the Port Authority web site has a link to "JFK" as well as "LGA" (LaGuardia) with phone number to call, and yes, it is staffed by a person, use the same link to complain about any company that has a shuttle service to/from the NYC airports, or find your local "Airport Authority" online for all information.   
   Overseas based passengers should use Kayak.com to determine which airlines have non-stop flights to the destination.

   In all cases travelers must contact the airline of choice for price and availability, but at the very least, you do have a way to find comfort by choosing a familiar plus more dependable airline when you travel, and avoid my unpleasant experience with Alitalia.