Air Canada makes a mess in Rome...Great tours of Vatican, Coliseum
ROME - I gave Porter Airlines a good talking to recently when they failed to provide customers proper compensation for costs incurred after a diverted flight, and also for a drastic failure to communicate. Today, it's Air Canada that takes the horrible communication/lousy staffing award.
Tuesday I arrived at the airport in Rome at 9 a.m. for a scheduled 11:30 am. departure to Toronto. There were at least 200 people in the economy lineup, and more than 40 in the lineup for executive class check-in. Air Canada had three people working for economy and only one for executive.
The lines moved incredibly slowly, and the executive person dealt with, and I counted, exactly SIX separate groups and perhaps 15 or maybe 16 people in AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES.
People were getting steamed, as you can imagine.
"I pay for executive class and this is what I get," one man complained loudly as he scouted the lengthy executive lineup.
When I finally got to the counter, after 10:30 a.m., I was told the flight was delayed three hours because of weather delays Monday night in Montreal. I was given a lunch voucher and the lunch was pretty decent. So they did the right thing. And weather in Montreal isn't Air Canada's fault.
But why on earth were there only THREE people checking people in for economy flights for hugely popular flights to both Toronto and Montreal? The next-door counter at the airport in Rome had, and I counted them, EIGHT people checking in people for one small flight to Malta.
There was a guy working behind the counter at the Air Canada station who periodically would look over someone's shoulder and say something or other, but the only time in an hour and-a-half that he emerged for the public was to say "Executive class check in here. Economy over there."
At no time did anyone announce the flight was delayed, or come out from behind the counter and explain what was happening, or even take five seconds to stand up and say, "Excuse me, but if you're in line for the 11:30 flight to Toronto we apologize for being short-staffed and, by the way, you won't miss your flight because it's been delayed."
Is it really that hard, folks?COLISEUM AND VATICAN TOURS A DELIGHT
Had a great tour of the Coliseum just before heading home, as well as a superb, private tour of the Vatican. The latter I felt kinda guilty about, bypassing all the folks in line. But time was short and I paid a pretty good rate for it, about $100.
I learned a lot about the history of the place and the marvellous artwork. Our guide told us how Michelangelo had painted naked men in the Last Judgment but that church officials didn't like it, so hired a painter named Daniele de Volterra to touch it up with loincloths and such
"We call him the Underwear Guy," said Massimo, my well-versed tour guide.
He also pointed out some fun parts of the artworks, such as where Michelangelo painted his rival's face on the portrait of Minos, God of Hell, complete with donkey ears. He also showed us the funeral monument built for Pope Alexander II by Bernini, showing a giant thorn protruding from England into the foot of the statue; a symbol of the trouble that Anglican England was making for the Catholic church.
The Coliseum tour with Vito was just as entertaining, but perhaps a bit more "basic," with jokes about ex-wives and such. But it's a tremendously powerful experience to see the Coliseum, better known by its proper name as Ampitheatrum Flavium. It was called the Coliseum by some because of the colossal statue of Nero which once stood just outside the north end of the facility.
"You've all heard of Nero," Vito told the assembled group. "Kinda the Berlusconi of his day," he added, referring to the current Italian Prime Minister.
Apparently there used to be places of ill repute right across the street; handy for men who got all hyped up watching the gladiators and such.
The whole thing was built in just a couple years, which is pretty remarkable."It wasn't that hard," said Vito. "They had a lot of workers." Pause. "And no unions."
Finished off my final night in Rome with a great meal near the top of the Spanish Steps, so thanks to Sabrina Vitullo at PSL Planning in Rome for all her great organization work and for a fine meal.
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