Postcards from Italy

Travel Advisory: Rome Fiumicino Airport

One the night of May 6th, a fire due to a short circuit broke out in Rome Fiumcino’s international terminal, gutting a shopping area in Terminal 3 and causing dozens of flights to be cancelled or delayed, and of course travel complications for thousands of passengers. Considering that even more people are flying through Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) airport this year than in past years (up 8% over last year), there is a fair amount of misery in store before and/or after your Italian vacation if you are flying through Rome.

FCO departure gates C

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

More than a month after the fire, the terminal is still not fully functional and travelers can expect some delays and inconvenience. Here’s what we found after flying through Fiumicino last week:

Terminal 3

  • Many airport employees are wearing masks to protect their lungs from any toxic air, though we didn’t notice any fumes and masks were not distributed to travelers. If you have a compromised respiratory system, you may wish to bring your own mask for use in the airport.
  • Some flights (British Airways, for example) have been moved to Terminal 5.
  • For other carriers, travelers check in at Terminal 3 and then must walk outside to Terminal 1 or 2 to go through security. Travelers are then funneled to departure gates C, which are the bus gates. The C area is a large room with little seating and a large screen detailing the departing flights and their gates, which are announced right before boarding time. For our Lufthansa flight, the boarding process was chaos as we descended to the bus and then were driven to the plane parked at one of the closed D gates (see below). Our plane left late and we missed our connection in Frankfurt (it was a one hour scheduled connection).
  • Departure gates D are closed, as are the business class lounges located there (if you are flying business class the airline gives you a €10 voucher for food).
  • Be patient and dress lightly for warm temperatures. There are stairs to climb, and the while the terminal does have “air conditioning”, it still is uncomfortably warm.


  • Travelers connecting in Europe can expect long delays in baggage retrieval due to the fire. It was already a slow process in relation to other major international airports and now it is even slower.
  • There is a bar for getting a coffee, some seating, ATMs, newly renovated bathrooms, and carts are now free.

Travel Specialists

Maria Landers

Brian Dore