I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Worst Airline Company in the World

Michael Totten has a story about his horrible experience with the Italian Airline Alitalia, a portion of which is below:

After spending several weeks each in Iraq and Lebanon at the end of 2008, I bought a plane ticket to the U.S.from Beirut on December 22 and figured I had plenty of time to get home for Christmas. I had no idea, though, that I had purchased my ticket from the worst airline company in the world – Italy’s national carrier Alitalia – and that a two-hour layover in Rome would turn into an ordeal that lasted longer than a week.

I placed my most critical and expensive items in my carry-on bag so they wouldn’t get damaged or lost. Yet the woman at the Alitalia check-in counter in Beirut’s international airport said my bag was too large and would have to be checked. I wasn’t happy about that, but I did as I was told and surrendered my luggage. She neglected to tell me that Alitalia’s baggage handlers were on strike and that it would be a very long time before I would see my property again – if I ever would see it again.

My flight left Beirut on time, and I had no idea what I was in for in Italy.

After I landed in Rome, the Departures board said my flight to Chicago was delayed two hours. I didn’t mind. I had a 24-hour layover there, so I could wait patiently. But an angry stirring of passengers at the flight counter caught my attention.

“What’s going on?” I asked an American woman who looked concerned yet approachable.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “But somebody told me the baggage handlers on are strike and that we might not be going anywhere.”

A few moments passed before I absorbed what that meant. My laptop was in my carry-on bag that Alitalia had forced me to check. My work from Iraq and Lebanon was on that machine. My Nikon camera was in that bag. I didn’t want to hand it over, but the airline forced me to hand it over and didn’t tell me what was happening in the bowels of the company.

At least I had the presence of mind to make backup copies of my recorded interviews and place them on a flash memory stick that I carried around in my pocket. My hand-written notes and my photographs, though, were not in my pocket. Alitalia’s baggage handler’s union was holding much of my Middle East work hostage.

The man and woman working at our Alitalia flight counter wouldn’t tell us what was going on, and I assumed it was because they didn’t know. They looked slightly stressed, and I felt bad for them. They weren’t on strike, but they had to deal with the fallout. And that fallout was about to get nasty...

Source: Michael Totten (it got very nasty, indeed...sounds likea story out of Africa or Latin America instead of Europe)


Socialism at its very best. Unions as they were designed to function.