Snippets: SIMs and Carry-Ons

Buying SIMs overseas and the language barrier

In two letters replying to an article that was originally published in late March 2022, the writer of the article said, “In countries where you’re on shaky ground with the language, beware. Having been through this process in Italy and India, a word of advice – don’t.”

The two letter writers had differing opinions, but both had solutions to the article writer. One replied with a novel suggestion. Do your homework, check online and write down the brand and type of SIM you need, find a shop and show the sales assistant what you want. Saying, “No need to talk, just smile.”

Why not? Good idea. In any circumstance doing your homework or research before travelling solves many issues. This letter writer used initiative and did the right thing. First went online and checked to see what was available and then wrote it down. A simple solution.

The second letter writer disagreed that it was too much trouble buying a SIM in Italy. Saying they spent 5 wonderful weeks there and bought two inexpensive “TIM” network prepaid SIM card products designed for travellers and that they had purchased them online on their website in English and then booked an appointment for their shop near the Duomo in Milan. All they had to do is show their (Australian) passports for identification and online receipts and picking them up without any fuss. Adding comments that the coverage was fine almost everywhere and had adequate data allowance. Then going on about downloading maps for navigation either before travelling or before the data allowance expired.

Well what can I say? Well done. I’ve had experience with TIM for many years. I really don’t know why the article writer said not to bother with Italy? It is pretty straight forward like this letter writer said.

Let me explain. These TIM shops, same with Vodafone, Wind etc., in Italy are all set up for foreigners. They do speak English. Perhaps even a few other main languages as well like, Spanish and French, which many Italians speak or understand. Anyhow, since English is the lingua franca there are no issues unless you go to some far away place in the countryside, but why would you go there to buy a SIM when you arrive or land in Italy in Rome, MIlan, Venice or Naples? Besides this person was smart enough to check online.

TIM has shops all around and they are easily found in heavy tourist hit areas. When I arrive in Italy, either in Rome or Milan, I go to the TIM shops after I’ve left my luggage at the hotel. In Rome they have a shop in the mezzanine of the Roma Termini railway station where the Leonardo Express from Rome Fiumicino Airport terminates. They speak English there if required. In Milan the same. They have a shop in the Milano Centrale station where trains from Malpensa Airport end up.

As said by the letter writer they have products for foreigners. They are very competitive. 30-day plans with large amounts of data. Just show them your foreign passport as these plans are not available to the locals. The SIM lasts one year. If you decide to come back you can use the same SIM and number but you’ll need to recharge at least once in the twelve month period to retain that number for a further twelve months from the day of recharge. To get a good deal again it is best to buy another SIM as a foreigner as topping up the SIM and number you already have is not good value.

The right carry-on

A letter writer back in late March 2022 was commenting on how it has become the norm with passengers hauling the maximum weight allowable into the overhead bins asking, “Has anyone noticed the weight of those things being checked?” And then going on pointing out the safety hazard these could cause in a serious crash forcing open the latches on a heavy overhead bin. The writer added seeing videos of passengers carrying their mini suitcases off the plane in an emergency saying it makes a joke of the time limit certification for clearing the cabin safely. He closes by saying airlines do not want to offend passengers (customers) or lose them to competitors.

I agree. The maximum allowable weight and size is fine as long as we all follow the rules. There has to be a limit even for those that have overweight luggage and have paid extra for their foolishness. Unfortunately it seems not all bags are weighed at check-in. The check-in operator will ask you if you have any bags to check-in and not always will they get up and look over the counter and check the carry-ons or weigh them. As I don’t fly much domestically I have little experience here but when it comes to international travel I can tell you I do my very best not over carry. I usually carry a backpack and a laptop bag. Very rarely have they ever asked me to weigh the laptop bag. I would assume they’ll just add several kilos for that or work out a ball park figure for both the backpack and laptop bag. What worries me besides the extra weight in the overhead bins are all the duty-free items especially alcohol. If there is a fire in the cabin and these are shattered they can fuel the fire. Pretty drastic. As for airlines turning a blind eye. You can for a half a kilo here and a kilo there but not when they are oversized and way over weight, it’s a no.

In response to this were two letters. One was questioning whether those complaining about carry-ons and the idea they caused disruption or risk were aware of the airlines’ policies on acceptable dimensions and weight. The writer pointing out she always complied and goes on to say that it is the airlines’ responsability for any safety issues and not to attack travellers who manage their luggage properly. Adding they prefer to keep their belongings with them when they disembark, with less chance of luggage disappearing. Ending with an empthatic no she would not remove her lugagge from the overheads in an ermergency.

Sure the airlines are responsible and they need to be firm. Passengers need to realise this is for their own safety. As for grabbing luggage from the overhead bins in an evacuation situation people need to understand that time is very important especially if the cabin fills up with smoke. Fire will eventually get to you but the smoke will have killed you by then. If people are desperate for the important things, like, money, wallets, smartphones, medicines, etc., the small stuff, then keep them in a bum bag (fanny pack) in the seat pocket. Anything in the overhead lockers unfortunately needs to stay there. Blocking aisles and escape routes should be avoided period!

The second letter writer gave an example of a passenger asking to help lift a carry-on bag into the overhead bin above her seat. She said she tried lifting it but failed to even lift it off the floor. She told the lady it was too heavy for an overhead locker, especially the one above her. No reply the lady went down the aisle and noticed (in horror) two men valiantly helping to lift the bag into the locker. She questions, “Are these carry-on bags ever weighed or am I the only person ever to stick to the seven kilogram rule?”

Here the airline and the passenger are both at fault. The check-in operator for willfully allowing it as I doubt they missed weighing it. The passenger should have checked in this luggage and perhaps taken any valuable items out, unless the bag was full of gold bars then that’s a different story! Jokes aside, perhaps it may have been important (medical) equipment. We don’t know.

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