In Berlin, on entering the fairground, like in other areas in town, a huge billboard stood out with the wording “Berlin fuer Olimpia” ( Berlin for the Olympics) and the website wirwollendiespiele.de (we want the games) designed to explain the reasons for the candidacy to host the 2024 Olympic Games, the facilities available and how the awarding was being pursued, as well as the entities that will participate. All very clear; to be set, among others, against Rome’s candidacy.
In the meantime, ITB Berlin appeared to be a unique event, with numberless exhibition stands all full, and a liveliness like the industry fairs had not experienced in years. The director of an expanding Italian company told me in conversation that next year they will necessarily have to book a larger stand, so important is this fair, and made a comparison – unfavourable to us – with a similar Italian event, whose name I am not mentioning, for love of my country.
It would be pointless to deny it, I am a fan of Goethe’s country, from which I even receive a “lavish” pension of about EUR 49 per month, regularly increased by a few cents to reflect the cost of living (and in Italy?). I was almost beginning to grow too fond of Germany.
Then, fortunately, a few small cracks appeared, helping to dispel the myth and bring me closer to my own land: the maps of the exhibition area (impossible to find one’s way without one, given the size) were not available during the first few days; they were only distributed on Friday, when the majority of visitors had already left. And even the catalogues were not there this year; you left the Media Centre with the only satisfaction of having left your coat there.
The homeless sleep on the ground, near the subway stops, and in the subway coaches musicians beg for money like in Milan.
I had booked an Air Berlin flight (it used to be a good airline) and on the way there I had checked in online; On the way back I intended to do the same, and I made use of the internet station in the press area of the fair.
After entering the codes, the reply was that my booking could not be found, and to try entering more information. I tried everything for about half an hour and then, no longer certain I could take the night flight, I went to the Air Berlin stand at the fair. Having explained the situation, the lady at the desk asked for my ID in order to complete the registration, but then informed me that the flight was in codesharing with Alitalia and there was nothing she could do. I had wasted half an hour in front of the computer, and just as much time to reach the farthest stand of the fair where the airline was. Why didn’t the system inform me, instead of requesting me to keep on entering new data?
Anyway, having no trust anymore, I went to the airport one hour before I had planned (more wasted time), where the 21.30 Air Berlin flight I had booked was nowhere to be located. Even the Air Berlin officer knew nothing about it. After searching for it, he sent me to his colleague “with red hair”, who vexedly searched some more, and then told me that the flight no longer existed, there was a new Alitalia flight. More and more worried about the outcome of my booking, I voiced my complaints and, in return, I was ungraciously instructed to “go there if you have anything to say”. On the opposite side of the hall there was the Air Berlin, Alitalia and Ethiad desk, and then everything became clear. Booking a flight with one of these companies, all belonging to the same owners, you do not know with which airline you will end up travelling, and above all, because the IT systems do not interact with each other (at least not between Air Berlin and Alitalia, as I could personally verify), you do not receive any assistance.
I do not know what airlines I will be flying in future, but I am sure about which ones I am not going to fly.
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