One question that always comes up on travel boards is, “We are arriving ahead of other people in our party and would like to know where would be the best place to meet at FCO?“
Leonardo Da Vinci Airport (FCO) is a large, sprawling airport with multiple terminals, numbered 1, 2, 3, and 5. The airport can often be very crowded and quite chaotic. In addition to the numbered Terminal locations, there are also Gates B, C, D, G, and H. So for a first-time traveler to this airport, it can also be very confusing. Hopefully, this article can give you some easy-to-find and easily-recognizable places to meet your party.
Arriving at the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport from the USA
Getting through Arrivals and Baggage Claim in Terminal 3
The Train Station at the Leonardo Da Vinci (FCO) Airport
Terminal 5 at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport
Lost Luggage – Oh No!
How do I get to FCO?
Currently, all International, Non-Schengen flights come into Terminal 3, through Gates G and H. From there, Non-Schnegnen travelers are routed through immigration (passport control). If you’re coming directly from the USA, you’ll come through Terminal 3 – see our post on Arriving at the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport from the USA. If you’re an arriving US passenger, or Non-Schengen visitor, you might also read Getting through Arrivals and Baggage Claim in Terminal 3. Both these articles have maps and pictures that can ease your transition through the FCO airport.
The Gates B, C, D, G, and H at the Fiumicino Airport
On some USA airline websites, the airline might infer that you will arrive at T5. This is inaccurate. No flights arrive at Terminal 5 – it is a departure-only terminal opened in May 2008 for all departing US-flagged carriers – and El Al. Here travelers go through more intensive security checks than in the other termminals at FCO. You can leave Italy from Terminal 5, but you can never arrive there. For more info on T5, read this post, Terminal 5 at the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport.
If you’re coming from Gates G – a “secured” satellite gate – you’ll come into the Terminal 3 Arrivals area via the sky-train (see photo above). If the Gate G satellite gates are full, you might be bused from your plane into the T3 Arrivals Area (This happens quite rarely for US arrivals). From the G Gates, you ride the train, then walk endlessly in T3, go through immigration (passport control), get your luggage from carousels 4-8, “walk-through” customs, and then exit into the non-secured, public section of Terminal 3.
Many Schengen – or domestic EU flights – also arrive at T3. They come in through Gates B, C, and D and often head for different carousels. Domestic Alitalia, Air France, AirOne, and KLM flights pick up their luggage in Terminal 1.
So Where do I Wait?
If you’re arriving first and you need to wait on other arriving passenger, you have a few options. Some arrivals will be from outside the European Union (EU), like the United States. Others will be coming perhaps from a connection in AMS, FRA, CDG, etc. and thus are considered “domestic” EU flights. There are really two “best places” I would recommend to meet: The Train Station at FCO and the Meeting Point in the public non-secured section of the Arrivals Area, the lowest level in Terminal 3.
The exception might be if both parties are arriving on domestic Alitalia, KLM, Air France, and AirOne flights. As all these flights come into T1, you’d be better served waiting downstairs in the T1 Arrival area. However, it’s unlikely that all parties would be traveling just these airlines… so we’ll look at the largest percentage of arrivals.
Looking back at the Terminals map (above), you can see the FCO Train Station on the left side of the map, marked by the blue-outlined arrow. Across the street from the train station are Terminals T3, T2, and T1 – moving from left to right on the map. In the bottom center are the parking garages (labeled A, B, C, D and E). You do not see T5 because this isolated, departure-only terminal is about 1,000 meters to the left of T3 in this map. You can also see that the recommended spots to meet, the train station and the T3 Arrivals Area – marked by the the yellow-outlined arrow – are relatively close to each other.
The Train Station at FCO
If everyone in all parties is riding the train into town, the train station at FCO is a great spot to meet. There is some seating, a couple of snack bars and cafes, and plenty of places to buy train tickets. To get to the train station from the Arrivals Area, read our posting on The Train Station at FCO. The only disadvantage of waiting here is you have no posted information on incoming flights… so if you are waiting for someone you WILL NOT know if their flight has been delayed, or even cancelled unless you walk back over to the Terminals 3 Arrivals Area or have the opportunity to contact them via a mobile phone. Here are a few pictures of the Train Station Area at FCO.
Heading Towards the Platforms at the FCO Train Station
Bookstore, Tabacchi shop in the Train Station waiting area.
Standing in the waiting area and looking from the Train Station towards the Terminals
Getting a bite to eat while waiting at the Airport Train Station
Terminal 3 Arrivals Area
Perhaps the BEST spot to wait for your arriving party may be in the public section of the Terminal 3 Arrivals Area. Here you will find EVERYONE waiting, including friends, family, taxi and shuttle drivers, cruise ship representatives, etc. This is the place to wait!
The Terminal 3 Arrivals Area is located in the BOTTOM floor – Level 0 – of Terminal 3. If you are coming from Rome to meet someone, follow the signage DOWNSTAIRS from the main level of Terminal 3 to the public section of the Terminal 3 Arrivals Area. This is the floor BELOW ticketing and check-in… and the lowest floor you can go to. There are plenty of signs everywhere and you can ride escalators or elevators downstairs.
If you are arriving by plane and plan to wait on someone… GREAT! You’ll more than likely come out this same area – except if you are on one of those domestic Alitalia, KLM, Air France, and AirOne flights. The Terminal 3 Arrivals Area is busy with folks doing exactly what you are doing – waiting on someone else to arrive!
If you are an arriving passenger, when YOU exit out the frosted doors of the Baggage Claim and Customs Area, you’ll come directly into this public, non-secure area. Here’s the view you will see as you come out the frosted doors from Baggage Claim.
All these folks on the railing above are looking into the “Baggage Claim” area, through the frosted doors, hoping to get a glimpse of someone they know heading towards them.
From the vantage point of the folks on the rail above… here’s the frosted doors they are looking into.
As an arriving passenger, as you’re exiting out these frosted door, the “waiting area” is to your immediate LEFT. So turn left and you will see this bank of TV screens displaying all arriving flights. This would be an ideal place to wait for someone coming in on a flight after you. The TV screens provide real-time information and can be a huge asset.
Also on your left, you can see this HUGE pole, painted a burnt orange color, with the signage: Meeting Point, as pictured below. If you look closely at the picture above with the folks leaning on the rail, you can see this HUGE pole in the far left side of the picture. So when you exit out of the frosted doors HEAD LEFT, past the Arriving Flight TV screens to this pole – A GREAT place to wait and easy to find! There are a few seating areas adjacent to the pole.
In the background of the top picture above you can see a cafe’. When taking this picture, our back was against the orange pole… and as you can see, there is some limited seating to the left of this picture.. which would be to the left of the Meeting Point pole. Look at the pictures below. Now we have moved closer to the cafe and the bookstore. This gives you a great view of another place to possibly wait… this is BEHIND the burnt orange pole, still moving to YOUR LEFT as you exit the frosted, sliding doors of the Baggage Claim Area.
This area – the Terminal 3 Arrivals Area – is probably the ideal spot to wait. It has the TV screens showing arriving flights. It has a cafe. It has some limited seating. There are bathrooms adjacent to this area (Right side as you exit the frosted doors), and some limited shopping. Some folks feel that if their party is arriving 30-45 minutes after they arrive, they should just wait in the baggage area. I’d say go ahead an clear customs and head outside the secured area. There are few facilities in the baggage area and there are NO boards updating arriving flights. The plane you’re waiting on might be 2-3 hours late… and you’d never know standing in the luggage claim area… so head for the Meeting Point pole in the non-secured area.
Other Things to Do while you Wait
In addition to eating and/or some shopping, there are three ATM’s located in this public, non-secure section of the Terminal 3 Arrivals Area. The first ATM, pictured below, is against the back wall. If you are exiting the frosted doors, this ATM would be to your left. Note all the shuttle companies located in the right side of the picture below. The ATM is between the shuttle companies and the Cafe’ on the back wall.
There are two other ATM’s located on your RIGHT as you exit out of the Baggage Claim area. They are on the hallway heading towards the train station. In the pictures above, the first is of the signage you look for (Train Station) and the second shows the ATM on the right side of the hall. There is also one just out of the picture on the left side of this same hall.
UPDATED June 2011 – The SmartPhone store in T3 is currently closed – Not sure when, or if, it will open again. We’ll leave this info in this post in hopes the store reopens. For more info on other phone or SIM card purchase options at FCO, see the post: Purchasing a Phone or SIM card at the FCO airport
If you need a SIM card for your phone.. head to the SMART PHONE store. This is on the same hallway (to the right as you exit the frosted doors) as the ATM’s. I spoke with a representative here and if you have an unlocked phone, they will set you up with an Italian SIM card. All you need is a passport and on occasion, an Italian address (your hotel, B&B, or Apartment). They say once you install the SIM, the phone number will be activated in about 2-3 hours. If you do not have an unlocked phone… they can sell you one of those also! Again, check out our post for alternatives to this “closed” store.
Finally, again heading right out of the frosted exit doors and down the hallway towards the train station, you will see this shop that sells the Roma Pass. The Roma Pass is NOT good on the train into town but could be useful to you after you get settled – or perhaps connect to the metro at the Roma Ostiense or Roma Termini stations. For more info on the Roma Pass, CLICK HERE!
Of all the spots to wait in the airport, the Terminal 3 Arrivals Area probably provides you the most services and information of any “meeting spot” at Leonardo da Vinci (FCO) Airport. This is where I wait for folks arriving!
Header: FCO Terminal – Photo by By sfPhotocraft
Skybridge photo by Andrew Scott, flickrhindmind.net
Satellite Gate G from Above – Photo by Aeroporti di Roma’s photostream
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