Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cardiff-Milan!

Yes, that's my fridge.

I've been ranting and raving about the trouble of getting from Italy to Wales for years, but at the beginning of the month Cardiff airport finally started a route to Milan! For the first time in all the years I've been here there's now a direct flight. For now Flybe only have one flight a week to Milan Malpensa which will increase to three in the autumn.

The new route was announced a couple of weeks after I'd booked my last trip back to Wales, but as Flybe started operating from Cardiff on the 1st of June I wouldn't have been able to have my outbound flight with them, but I would have very much appreciated a direct return flight!

Previously the only way to get to Italy from Cardiff was via Amsterdam Schiphol, and I really would not recommend it to anyone. Apart from how I got stranded there for a day on my way back to Italy in March, the checks are excessive and time-wasting (I've just come off a plane, ran to the gate, and I now have to get my bag and everything scanned again to get back on the same airline?), it's always such a race to get from one gate to another, and there are always always problems. On my flight back at the beginning of the month we got told just as we were about to board that there were technical problems with the plane and that they had to find another one, which wouldn't be easy. I saw red. After my experience in March I got so angry I could've strangled someone (so much for curling up in a ball and crying that time). So if you wanted to avoid all that (and I really really did), you had to cross the border to go to an English airport.

When I moved to Italy in 2008 I flew from Bristol to Milan Malpensa, a route that now no longer exists. Ryanair only do summer flights to Milan Bergamo from Bristol three times a week, so that's no good any other time of year. For nearly the whole almost-seven-years I've been living in Milan I've had to fly to Heathrow. I've tried a few different options, Lufthansa (before they too scrapped that route), BA (until they threatened to go on strike at Christmas), but over the last few years it was Alitalia's Milan Linate-Heathrow. From Heathrow it's then around a five hour journey to get back to my mam's house, and we sometimes broke the journey up into two days as it got so late. Door to door would take around 10 hours on a good day. All this obviously didn't just make things difficult for me, but also anyone coming to visit me, and it put many off.

It's been almost 10 years since I first flew to Italy, for my Erasmus year, and even then I had to fly from Bristol. The rest of the year was spent connecting at Amsterdam, who managed to keep my luggage an extra day once. Oh, the fun I've had over the years. The idea of a direct flight seems like a luxury, and it will cut my travel time by about half. Hopefully this will also mean that more Welsh people will come and visit Italy, and hopefully my friends who have been saying for years that they want to visit my home country but have been put off by the complicated travel will take advantage of it!

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