Breaking out of Rome airport in the middle of an indirect flight?!
February 16, 2011 3:09 AM   Subscribe

I am taking a trip to Japan from London, my flight is via Rome (both ways). On the way back I'd like to just get out at Rome and take another flight which I will book separately. I don't want to pay anything extra. Is it possible without changing my booking? What's the worst than can happen? I will only have carry-on luggage. I am an EU citizen.

My main concerns having spoken with my travel agent is:

- Not being expected in Italy by the authorities.
- Being blacklisted by carriers for not completing my booked trip.
- Not physically being allowed to leave the airport at Rome.

Thanks in advance!
posted by tomw to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (14 answers total)
Airlines don't like this, but their main tool to keep you from doing it is that they will cancel any remaining legs of your trip. Since it's your last leg, there's not much they can do. Do be kind and let them know, so they don't delay the plane waiting for you to make the connection. There will not be any problem with leaving the airport, or with Italian authorities. The airline won't be happy, but I doubt you'll be blacklisted.
posted by Nothing at 3:21 AM on February 16, 2011

And of course, I mean let them know as you leave the airport, not in advance.
posted by Nothing at 3:21 AM on February 16, 2011

I was under the impression that most Airport taxes are payable ONLY if you leave the Airport. Hence in this case you may not have paid up the correct Airport taxes to leave the airport in Rome? - I don't know what happens then though. They charge you as you go through customs?

Does passport control have a list from the airlines of all passenger names that should be arriving / departing?
posted by mary8nne at 3:47 AM on February 16, 2011

Just be sure and let the airline know for the convenience of staff and other passengers. Just tell them you have to change your plans and thanks. I have done this in the US and UK
posted by rmhsinc at 4:00 AM on February 16, 2011

Some airlines have fines for no-show. Confirm with them first, otherwise they may get very snooty (they might do this anyway).
posted by squishles at 4:01 AM on February 16, 2011

I did this in Rome years ago (though I was not connecting immediately) and nothing happened. Since then I have failed to arrive at any number of flights. Just walk. Might be annoying with checked baggage, but I reckon you'd be fine.

(incidentally, I fail to see why an airline would want to penalise you for saving them some fuel, but that's neither here nor there...)
posted by pompomtom at 4:08 AM on February 16, 2011

EU Citizens do not have to make prior arrangements to enter another EU country.

Carriers will not blacklist you, as there may be any valid number of reasons why you couldn't make your connection. I would let them know as soon as you land in Rome however, so there's no undue delay for the departing aircraft as they call your name at the gate over and over.

As for leaving the airport - as the first point. As an EU citizen with a valid passport you can go where you like. Of course you'll need to go through security again on the way back in.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:34 AM on February 16, 2011

What others have said. Mainly:

-There are all sorts of reasons people cant get back on the plane. I've been on my share of flights where a customer has a panic attack and has to leave. Nobody will make you get on a plane.
-Inform the airline so that they are not waiting for you. Tell them politely that you will not be continuing on your flight. You don't have to do this, of course but it is the right thing to do.
-The rights of free movement for EU citizens means that you don't have to notify anybody. You have a right to be in Italy.

The consensus on FlyerTalk seems to be that as long as you don't make a habit of it, the airlines won't care.
posted by vacapinta at 5:00 AM on February 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies... I will certainly tell the airline. Who would I tell? Someone at a check in desk?

I will say in regards to the EU thing, when we fly from UK to Spain, or Italy, you must confirm your passport number in advance. I think this was brought in following terror attacks. That was the main reason I was questioning that. But certainly when I've gone through passport control at any EU airport they often don't even look at the photo page so I guess this isn't a problem.

Now I just have to get my stuff into a carry on bag!

Thanks for the replies! I will fake a panic attack if necessary. There is a chance I'd miss the flight anyway as it's a 50 minute connection and the last one of the day back to Heathrow!
posted by tomw at 5:06 AM on February 16, 2011

Who would I tell? Someone at a check in desk?

The easiest thing to do, since you'll probably still be inside security when changing planes, is to go straight from to whatever gate you'll be boarding at with your ticket and some ID and say simply "Because I've had to change my plans, I won't be able to fly with you today. I just wanted to let you know so that you don't hold the plane on my account; if there is somebody waiting for a standby seat, feel free to give my seat to them."

Simple, saves everyone some time, maybe even helps somebody else out.

Thanks for the replies! I will fake a panic attack if necessary.

I think a little courtesy and dignity might be a better decision than faking a medical condition.

I mean, honestly now.
posted by mhoye at 6:34 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It was a joke!

And no I don't want to do that at the gate because I will then be through security at that point. Getting out from there will be much harder and raise more questions.
posted by tomw at 6:47 AM on February 16, 2011

Why don't you phone them now? (And maybe ask them if you can change your ticket to have a stopover in Rome; the charge for changing dates might be cheaper than for a new flight.)
posted by squishles at 8:03 AM on February 16, 2011

Response by poster: I'm not going home. I'm touring a little. My eventual flight should be £30 from Bologna.

Thanks for all the answers folks.
posted by tomw at 8:11 AM on February 16, 2011

I'm assuming here that the connection you don't plan to make is on the same airline, and that your connecting flight would be in the same basic part of the airport. All you'd be doing would be getting off your first plane, going over to the gate for your next plane as you normally would to inform them of your plans, and then instead of getting on that plane, simply leaving the airport from there. Just like you would have if you'd left the airport 10 minutes earlier from four gates down.

If you're talking about Fiumicino airport, I'll say, too, that the place isn't that complicated. You've got the domestic terminal (which you won't be interacting with at all) and the international terminal. There aren't a million places to go in and out of security over and over. It's not Jerusalem or Bogota, with absurd security theatre just to get in or out of each gate. Nor is it JFK, where major airlines have their own private terminals which are separate from each other so you have to take a tram and go through security just to go talk to someone at the Delta or American desk.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 AM on February 16, 2011

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