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Question

I need to give instructions to someone on how to get to the Rome Fiumicino (FCO) airport train station and get on the right train. I have never been to the airport, I do not have the option of going there in advance and I do not have the option of getting him in person. The person is a quite insecure 18-year old male. How do I convincingly give these instructions and how do I even know what to say?

Background I work as a Personal Assistant for a business owner. He is getting married in Italy very soon and has invited his family, friends and colleagues - including me.

I have booked flight and train tickets as well as hotel rooms for his entire family.

His sister, her husband and their son were supposed to fly to FCO and travel by train to Firenze where the wedding is. The son (18 years, quite insecure) is not able to go at the same time as them so he will be traveling one day later - alone. He is not completely comfortable with finding the correct train after getting off the plane so I agreed to assist him.

I was supposed to land in FCO the day before him and would use my 2 hours before the train left to take a video of the road from leaving the plane to entering the train (I know, very pedagogical).

However - I made a huge mistake with my own tickets. I am NOT landing in FCO, I am landing in CIA (Ciampino). Now I am not able to go to the airport before him and thus have no clue how to assist him.

He will be leaving tomorrow morning so the issue is urgent. Now I need to figure out how to:

  • Guide him to the train
  • Not freak him out (after all, the person guiding him making such a mistake is not comforting)
  • Explain this in a manner that does make me look incompetent

What I've tried I have searched for maps of the airport but they are very overview-based, not in detail. I also searched for whether it is possible to have airport people pick him up but with no luck.

I even considered calling a cab company and asking them to go to the airport with a sign and follow him to the train station for €50, but that would require the son to have that in cash and I would reimburse him, an option which I do not like.

I really hope you can assist me on this as I really do not want to cause major issues with by boss' close family so close to his wedding (or ever, for that matter!)

Bonus All their tickets are booked 100% correctly - believe me, I've checked a thousand times now!! So it is not possible that there are issues in their tickets too. I have been so busy with booking their tickets that my own got deprioritized.

Also, this is not a normal part of my job description. All of my boss' travels are managed by a travel agency, but since this is private I got the job.

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    Why not take the train out and meet his flight yourself? – user13044 Sep 7 '17 at 12:46
  • @Tom - You missed this I am NOT landing in FCO, I am landing in CIA (Ciampino). Now I am not able to go to the airport before him and thus have no clue how to assist him. – DumbCoder Sep 7 '17 at 13:09
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    There are signs, there are infopoints, there are other people to ask. Any detailed instruction will become useless as soon as the person following it will do something wrong (and that WILL happen!) – Neusser Sep 7 '17 at 13:13
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    @Tom my bad - the wedding is in Firenze so I will be nowhere near Rome to pick him up – Grobsrop Sep 7 '17 at 14:40
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    Rather than hire a cab, hire a tour guide to meet him post-customs and get him to the train. – mkennedy Sep 7 '17 at 16:46
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Well, I've been navigating airports on my own since I was ~14 so it's not that hard.

While it will be difficult to give you specific instructions, for example the arrival gate can make a huge difference, there are some things you can do:

  1. Explain the arrivals process, including Immigration. This is pretty straight forward and there are signs everywhere.
  2. The train station is right in the middle of the terminals so it would be very difficult to miss. There signs for that everywhere as well, both symbols and words.

As for getting on the right train, well, that shouldn't be much different than getting on the right airplane ;)

Before both of you leave, make sure Facetime or Skype are working, that way you can be a virtual guide.

If he asks about the video, point out that a pre-recorded video is only useful if you both have exactly the same arrival and train platform experience with is 50/50 at best. The train stain is also in Google Maps so worst case, he can just walk in that general direction, but don't necessarily follow those directions since Google Maps doesn't appear to know about the pedestrian viaducts.

  • Thank you for the advice, I found it helpful. Could you also take a look at my last bullet point maybe? How do I explain this mistake? – Grobsrop Sep 7 '17 at 14:43
  • @MadsPorsborg Edited. – Johns-305 Sep 7 '17 at 14:56
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I have landed at FCO twice the last two years and just want to add a couple of specific things to the excellent answer by Johns-305. (I also guess the specific case here is already sorted since it was asked a couple of months ago... but anyway someone else may need it!)

First is that you have to stay clear of a horde of persons trying to sell bus transfer. Even the guy selling trains tickets last time insisted on us taking the bus instead of the train. The ticket machines were broken so the only way was to get past the ticket person. Just insist on taking the train anyway and you can get on. I hope someone has sorted this out since then - it is not an honest setup.

There are several trains to pick from depending on where in Roma you want to go. There is the fast train to Stazione Termini that is probably the easiest choice and no stops if I remember correctly. But there are other commuter trains also departing from the same platforms. If you stay in the south of Rome you may want to get off att Travestere or Ostiense instead. It could be a good idea to find out specific train times and directions before. For this google maps directions has worked perfectly fine for us.

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