Arrive 8.5 hours early for a 6:30am flight out of FCO(Rome)?
May 8, 2014 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Two US citizens flying from Rome (FCO) to London (Heathrow LHR) in a couple weeks. The flight is at 6:35am. Our ride to the airport can only drop us off at 10pm the night before. Will we be ALLOWED to wait in the airport during that time?

We just found out that our ride to the airport (FCO) had to reschedule and can not make it that morning. They can, however, drop us off at 10pm the night before, which is 8 hours, 35 minutes before the flight.

We do not have a problem waiting at the airport for that time. Actually, we could get caught up on necessary paperwork during that time. Also, this might save us a useless hotel night we wouldn't fully need. We do not intend to try sleep in the airport.

So the question is, will we be ALLOWED to arrive at 10pm at night and wait overnight in the airport until our flight?


P.S. Your assistance is appreciated, but please just answer the question. We can make other arrangements to get to the airport, but this is a narrow question about being allowed to wait at the airport or how to find out if we will be able to. Thanks so much. :-)
posted by sandra_s to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (14 answers total)
Never done this at FCO, but I've used repeatedly when making the decision about other places. As with all sites describing people's experiences, you get some outliers but will get an idea of whether you a) can and b) will have the services you need. Super super helpful site. Link for FCO
posted by whatzit at 10:21 AM on May 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

(I should specify, despite the website's name, it's not all about sleeping; it's just a name. You'll also get info on whether the toilets are reachable, if the McDonald's is open 24 hours, etc)
posted by whatzit at 10:22 AM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have done this, but not in this airport (I was in Prague). I didn't bother checking in and going through security that night, when everything was closing down, I just parked in a litle wifi space between two baggage claims and read until it was time to check in. I mean, if anyone asks, you will assumedly have boarding passes or some proof of your flight? I think the big difference would be in the layout of the airport and if there's anywhere outside the gate you can hang.
posted by theweasel at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2014

My parents did this a few years ago.
posted by florencetnoa at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2014

My mom got to FCO at about 6 am last summer and said it had just opened, so I'm guessing no.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:39 AM on May 8, 2014

I have not done this at FCO, but I've done it at several other airports. In my experience, they usually will not let you through security that early (at a few airports they've had a specific rule that you can't go through more than 3 hours before your flight), but you can usually camp out near the baggage claim. The info on sleepinginairports suggests that only Terminal 2 is open overnight.

(With that said, I have friends who tried to stay the night at GRO in Spain, on the advice of sleepinginairports, and got kicked out in the middle of the night and instead slept outside in, like, a bush. Soo take things with a grain of salt, and be prepared for all circumstances - sometimes you just run into the wrong airport security guy. It looks like there's an airport hotel at FCO, which could be a good backup plan.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:47 AM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you take a look at the FAQ page it seems pretty clear to me that the airport is functionally open all night. As in, the shuttle service is available 24/7, you just have to call for it between 01:00 and 04:00.
posted by valkyryn at 10:56 AM on May 8, 2014

The big decider here is probably whether you're in the pre-security area or post-security area. Back in 2004, I did not check in on time for a Rome --> Madrid flight (the last one that night) and was not allowed to fly. I was booked on a flight the next morning, but was told very adamantly by a large Italian solder carrying an assault rifle that I was not allowed to stay overnight in the airport (he was patrolling the check-in desk area).

I imagine you will not be allowed to go through security at 10pm for your morning flight, so unless policy has changed, I would also imagine that you will not be able to spend the night in the airport.
posted by undercoverhuwaaah at 11:07 AM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did this many years ago in Amman, Jordan, for 15 hours. In that case, one was not allowed to go through security until 3 hours before the flight. But you could park yourself elsewhere in the building. The non-English-speaking airport guards were not too pleased with me, but I survived.
posted by Riverine at 11:29 AM on May 8, 2014

I travel quite frequently and on two occasions ( US and UK ) was told one could spend the night in the pre-clearance area as long as you have a boarding pass for a flight the next day. Unless the airport is physically closed I see no reason why you can not stay in the pre-clearance area. BTW--I emailed the airport and was given the correct information. This might be harder in Rome. FCO is a very busy airport--they have to have some means of accommodating passengers whose flights have been cancelled/delayed/etc. Good Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 11:35 AM on May 8, 2014

I did this at FCO a couple of years ago. Couldn't go through security, just "slept" in the check-in area. It is not pleasant, but you can be there.
posted by eenagy at 12:17 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't ever been to Rome, so I can't speak to their airport.

In 2006, I flew from Paphos, Cyprus to Boston, via Manchester, UK. The flight from PFO to MAN left at something like 2:30 AM local time, arriving at MAN at around 5:30 AM local time, and my connecting flight back to Boston didn't leave until around 12:30 PM local time. I'm guessing this is fairly common in Europe, as opposed to here in the US where most airports actually close at some time during the night.

I got a cab from my hotel to PFO sometime around 10 PM local, and was able to go through security and check in for my flight. I ended up sleeping for a while in a sort of food-court area beyond security. In MAN I was already beyond security so I found a little lounge area to sleep in.

PFO is a fairly small airport, yet it seemed to be open 24 hours (and indeed had lots of flights scheduled to leave in the wee hours of the morning). Rome is likely to be a much, much larger airport. Therefore, I imagine that you should probably be fine.
posted by tckma at 12:51 PM on May 8, 2014

A quick squizz at the flight schedule shows departures up until about half past midnight and then the next one is at 4.30am followed by more at around 6.30. Given that whole "arrive two hours before your flight" thing, I'm thinking you'd get hassled between 00.30-2.30 IF there was going to be any.

I don't think you'll be able to camp out past security - they don't open the check in desks for individual flights earlier than 2-3 hours. I'd suggest camping out in the mezzanine of Terminal 3 (pre-security) - I'm pretty sure you can spread out on the seats there and I vaguely remember seeing people tethered to power points there as well.

Wherever you end up camping out, just be aware that nothing food wise opens at FCO before 6am, except apparently a cafe in pre-security Terminal 2, according to their web site. I have taken more than my fair share of 6.30 FCO flights, arriving at 4.30 for check in, and it never fails that juuuuuust as I'm boarding a cafe finally opens up it doors and my heretofore unslakable thirst for caffeine is taunted with the smell of a halfway decent cappuccino, but has to settle for shitty airplane drek.

If you want confirmation that it's ok to camp out, you might try calling their central line (first number here)
posted by romakimmy at 3:28 PM on May 8, 2014

Believe it or not, there's a website for this. Here's the relevant entry on Sleeping in Airports.

TL;DR, yes, this will be fine.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:34 AM on May 9, 2014

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