My NYC to Rome flight landed on time, so I had a cool 3+ hours to burn at FCO airport. I was sort of anticipating that I’d have to fill out some immigration form or at least show my passport to someone, and possibly even exit and have to go through security again since Moldova is not part of the EU, but, no. I came out right in airport central, free to transit.
It, like many modern terminals such as JFK terminal 4, was a large soul-sucking mall, with the same 20 or so luxury and fashion brands you’d see anywhere. I did not give one fuck about these things, so, after determining that I’d just connect to my next flight, exactly like I was flying to Santa Barbara via Denver, it was time to figure out where to perch my ass until 2:20 PM, which is when they were announcing my Air Moldova flight gate.
As I’ve discovered before when traveling internationally, Priority Pass, as weak as it is domestically, came through big time. At home I keep my card (I don’t trust the digital version) in a small travel stuff box with my noise cancelling earbuds and prong converters and things like that. I went to the Plaza Premium lounge, which was quiet, uncrowded, and large. It featured hot and cold food, a variety of seating areas, and showers. Nice place to wait.
I prepared a snack and I found a nice couch to myself. I watched a bit of the baseball game I’d missed during the flight on my phone, because I’m like that, then set an alarm, and went to sleep. 20 minutes later someone woke me up and apologetically told me that I could go sleep in a different part of the lounge, but not there. I wanted to explain that empty couches are made for sleeping. But she was so nice about it, and even offered to get me water or something else, that I couldn’t be pissed at her. And it was ok, because I did have a flight to catch. To Moldova.
The gate posted, and I took a tram to a satellite terminal extension, where there was *another* Priority Pass lounge, called Passenger Lounge (as opposed to what? Elephant Lounge? Passenger Prison?) so I had to try that shit out too. Again, it’s the principle. It was smaller and less well appointed but still provided a good place for me to shave and brush my teeth and wash my face and generally not feel like the gross scum I always feel like after flying. I travelled super light — just a normal sized backpack, so freshening up was all easy. The light traveller is the happy traveller.
I headed over to gate E37. It turns out I was not the only person going to Moldova, though it appeared that I might have been the only American.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never flown Air Moldova before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I boarded, and it was pretty much exactly like any domestic flight on an A320 I’ve ever taken, except that people were speaking Romanian and Russian. I was almost disappointed that I have nothing noteworthy to report: no goats and chickens, no unruly passengers, even announcements in English on a flight from Rome to Chisinau. It’s amazing how universal English has become. I think that most people on the plane were Moldovans who had gone touring in Italy.
I landed 2.5 hours later. Getting through immigration and customs was easy peasy and took like two minutes. I found my friend Brian, and I suddenly realized I was in Chisinau, Moldova, happily far from home. Three days prior I had no plans to be anywhere, and now I was here, for practically free. It felt pretty good.