December 29, 2008

Home Again, At Last

by Michael J. Totten

I just returned home after spending three weeks in Iraq, two weeks in Lebanon, and one week in transit hell on my way home thanks to a labor strike at the airport in Rome. The behavior of the staff at Italy's Alitalia airline -- management and worker alike -- shocked and appalled me. At this point I would rather go back to Iraq than to Italy, and I am not joking. I'm going to write about what happened, partly to blow off some steam, and also to warn you to stay the hell away from that airline at all costs. Alitalia delenda est.

Thanks to Charles Chuman for helping me out on the blog while I was away. Now that I'm back and can write full time, we'll go back to the regular publishing schedule. Stay tuned for dispatches and analysis from Iraq, Lebanon, and...Italy.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2008 10:03 AM

I once got stuck in Milan airport as one flight after another was cancelled due to bad weather. It was a surreal experience. All of the Italians - the passengers as well as the airport staff - acted in the most unimaginably bad way. They made Israelis look like Emily Post.

Posted by: MarkC Author Profile Page at December 29, 2008 10:47 AM

France and Italy are both "governments by strike". The government is run by heriditary elites for the benefit of the upper-class. The under-class in turn strikes whenever the status quo is upset (by talk of reform and cutting back on benefits) and then the government backs down and gives the workers what they demand.

Here we do things the other way around! We pretend to run things for the benefit of the working class, provide very few social benefits, and then buy off the big businesses when they threaten to go under (and fire everyone) - which is kinda their version of going on strike.

Welcome back Michael!

Posted by: sean Author Profile Page at December 30, 2008 8:18 AM

Welcome back, MJT! Did you book Alitalia or did you end up on it because it partnered with another airline through the SkyTeam alliance? Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid airlines you don't want to fly on.

Sean, good to hear from you, I can't get enough of your blog, wish you'd write more, thanks!

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at December 30, 2008 1:39 PM

Hope you feel welcome, back in the good ol' USA, Michael.

What's his name (OK, I know it's Charles, but I had to look to see Chuman) was doing a fine job while you were gone -- but I'm getting more focused on the global financial crisis.

um, er, how to say this ... where's your book?
I really love your blog, but you need to get books written, to get them published; and get published to get more credibility (and more cash/ sponsors for your current work).

I'm still certain that you could get 3 volumes of "Michael J. Totten's Middle Easter Journal" just from your blog posts (2003-2004 vol. 1, etc.), possibly with re-publishing permission from your other paid for published work, and merely compiling /minimum editing what you've already written.
Just get books printed so folks can see your books, and some even buy them.

If you would merely reorder your monthly archives in chron order, you could easily get some volunteers here (I at least for one) to help compile it.

Happy New Year!
Hope to see a book or 4 from you, this year!

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at January 2, 2009 4:16 PM

Dear Michael,
My husband and I are fortunate enough to travel to Europe a couple of times a year and your piece about Alitalia confirmed what I've heard about them. But since they are always tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, I have been careful to avoid using them. If it's any help to you for future trips, I always assume that the Italians and the French will do something that will afect us for some portion of our trip, so I always have back up plans to accommodate their national pasttime of striking. For example, when we took a train from Venice to Milan in October, I had in my notes the phone numbers and info for a rental car if we had a rail strike to deal with. Or hotel names and phone numbers in places (including airports) where we weren't planning to sleep. So let them strike, I still love them - and their food, and their art....

Posted by: Lydo Author Profile Page at January 10, 2009 9:11 AM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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