After last night’s show and #afterparty at the Voghera Country Festival, we were lucky to have a nice slow start on Saturday morning. We all had a late breakfast, and then met up with country singer Jo Dee Messina, Jen Swirsky (one of Jessica’s best friends and writer for country music site NashvilleGab, who also works with Jo Dee), along with her band and crew.
It was still hot as hell in Italy, and as Jo Dee and band were starting the sound check for their headlining show on Saturday night, we climbed aboard our air conditioned bus and started the journey for our next destination…France.
Please note: what’s about to follow has nothing whatsoever to do with music, and rather, is all about the pain of traveling. So if you don’t want to hear about that, turn back now! But for those of you sticking with me, here’s our story…
We had no problem getting to the airport, but once we arrived there, Alitalia reared its ugly head again. In my first post, I shared our miserable experience with them flying from NY to Milan. We had one more leg to fly with them from Milan to Paris, and man…this reinforced just how little they care about their passengers.
Jessica, Steve and I were the first at the check-in counters, they took our bags, and it all went normally. But when others attempted to do the same thing, they were told that Alitalia wouldn’t let them check their bags for another hour. And with 9 people on tour, there are a lot of bags.
We asked “why” that was the case, when they already took bags for the same flight from some of us. We got more insane double-talk about a supervisor changing something with the flight, but despite asking more questions and arguing our case, we were all left standing (or sitting on the floor) near check in for about an hour. And they couldn’t have cared less.
I also mentioned in my first post how tricky it can be to travel by air with guitars, and how they should not be checked in as luggage. As this was a smaller plane, Jessica, Steve and I actually had an extra ticket each….for our guitars. Yep, my seatmate on the plane is my guitar case.
But despite being told by Alitalia that this was their policy, and forcing us to pay for 3 extra tickets, when we got to the gate, once again a gate agent starting questioning whether they were going to let us onboard with our guitars….EVEN THOUGH WE HAD TICKETS FOR THEM. We were actually already through the gate and waiting to get on the plane, when a gate agent found us to once again question us about the guitars.
This isn’t about safety. This is about gate agents making arbitrary decisions that run counter to their own company’s policy, and hassling their passengers. And like last time, they kept people waiting on line a long time, with no announcements at all. Horrible airline.
But like last time, the flight was easy, and we had finally arrived in Paris! All we had to do now was to go to Enterprise, pick up the two large tour vehicles we are renting for the next month, and then make the two-hour drive to Caudry, where we are playing the next day. Easy, right?
When we got to Enterprise, we were informed that our vehicles weren’t there. No explanation as to why that was the case. Just…”sorry, they don’t seem to be here.” They offered us other vehicles, but none were large enough for 9 people, large suitcases for each, and instruments.
I'll spare you all of the details, but to make a long story short – we wound up standing in the Enterprise parking lot for THREE HOURS while they tried to sort this out and get us the vehicles we needed. By this time it was 11 pm, and they only got their hands on one vehicle we could use, so we had to be put up in a hotel overnight here at the airport to wait for the other one to arrive in the morning.
So now we had an entourage of 3 vehicles take us and our stuff to the IBIS Hotel here are Charles De Gaulle Airport, which is nice, but with rooms far too tiny for us, luggage and gear.
But, its only one night here. With this change of plans, we now have to get up Sunday morning, drive to right to our sound check in Caudry , and then play a later afternoon set at a show that celebrates the 35th anniversary of French Radio BLC.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening to me vent. I hope that my next post is a helluva lot more fun….