This past Tuesday morning I decided to leave Rome at 8 am even though my Delta flight back to JFK wasn't until 12:30 pm. I'm sooo glad I arrived so early as FCO was a bit chaotic! It was confusing to me where I needed to check in. I booked my flight with Air France and both KLM and Delta (which they all fall under) emailed me to check in. However I flew over on Alitalia and I also had an Alitalia confirmation code. I knew my check in was at Terminal 1, and when you arrive it just looks like Alitalia desks everywhere! I waited on an Alitalia line and when I got to the desk, found out I needed to find the Delta counter which was alllllll the way on the side to the right of the entrance when you come in.
Checking in with Delta was a better experience than checking in with Alitalia. No offense but it seems most Italians just kind of work slow paced. Going through security was not too bad but then trying to get my tax free refund (over 300 euros) was a nightmare of waiting!
The offices tonget a refund is right before passport control. Don't bother to stop at any stores prior to getting here if you need to get a refund. I waited 45 minutes on the Global Blue line (check your tax free forms to see which of the 3 companies you need to stand on line for, they were all next to each other and Global Blue was the longest). I got there at 9:30 am (arrived at airport at 8:50) and watched as frustrated passengers with shorter time leave the line or else they would miss their flight. I finally finished with Global Blue around 10:15 and then went on the Tax Free (orange) line. This line was much shorter but had to wait 15 minutes with 5 people ahead of me. Global Line had two attendants to process the forms and Tax Free had one.
By 10:40 am I was all done (got my refund back on my credit card right there, no need to mail in forms). Then I rushed over to Passport Control which had another enormous line but luckily US passengers had a shorter line.
After clearing customs, I finally found my gate fifteen minutes later (E is quite a long walk from customs). Basically had 30 free minutes to use the bathroom and find food/drinks before boarding! Just enough time.
Back to reality in several hours. Arrivederci, Italia!