London

Going into London on a non EU passport was another puzzlingly long process. It took us an hour and a half to enter the country, and apparently queues of three hours are not uncommon according to the daily paper, where an article was citing negative impact on business due to constant executive frustration. Common sense would dictate they should man more booths during the Olympics, but there have been recent redundancies, so do not count on it...

Airlines

Easyjet

We had one flight on Easyjet, booked without knowledge of which airline it was, on Edreams. This was out of Paris and we were dreading it. Helen had read the forums and noted they charged €12 per kg extra for every one over the allowed weight, but that so long as your cabin baggage fitted the size requirements, it could be as heavy as you were able to lift. Also seats are not allocated, so it is first in, first served.

When we arrived to check in there was an incredibly pleasant, helpful American-accented employee warning you of the restrictions and easing people's path to the check in booths. An 'A' for PR to them!

A solid Kiwi rugby frontline approach to the French scrum form of non-queuing ensured fairness in getting seats later too...

Alitalia

Coming out of Palermo on Alitalia was another story. We had booked a round ticket, but had to change our date of arrival, so had bought new tickets in, leaving the other booking as it was, as there was a no refund policy and we were still leaving on the original date.

Having waited in the line to check in, we were told that those tickets were invalid as we had not taken the flight in. We expressed surprise that this was so as we had received text confirmation and had never cancelled the flight out.

We left the queue and went to the Alitalia desk to the person in the Alitalia uniform, tried to argue the toss unsuccessfully (apparently it is in the fine print in Italian somewhere on the website) and shelled out the required €120 each - and then - to add insult to injury they added another €10 charge each to it for changing the flight. This is despite the fact we were buying new tickets!

Overall, it is no wonder Alitalia are constantly in financial difficulty if that is the way it is run; Easyjet is surprisingly good as long as you stick to the rules; London and Rome airports are slow. It made us really appreciate Air New Zealand and our airports at home!