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LARGER THAN LIFE: Lucia Bitondo

‘Larger than life.’ Lucia Bitondo epitomized that phrase in every way. A huge personality with an even bigger heart, Lucia was one of a kind – a ‘Diva’ in the best possible form – an operatic character – full of life and love and passion. She will remain forever in the minds and hearts of her friends, colleagues and competitors – those of us privileged to work with her, whether at the airport or at an office. To meet Lucia, was to remember her, and to love her.

But friends and colleagues are just an infinitesimal speck in the number of people she touched – there have been hundreds of thousands of confused, distressed, or problematic travellers she helped, cajoled, sweet talked, enticed and gently bullied (without them ever realizing it) into doing what was right and appropriate for themselves – and for her.

There was nothing mean, or small, or uncaring about her. Never an impatient or unkind word to anyone – and at YYZ at 4 am, or during extended flight delays, or coping with unreasonable passenger demands, there are many, many occasions when it is hard to hold back. Lucia made it look easy.

Truly, she made everything better. No matter how weary, how frustrated, how exhausted you were, whether you were a colleague from her own company or a competitor – it didn’t matter – a hug and a helping hand from Lucia made you feel better and gave you the energy to get on with it. Within that huge personality was a gentle, compassionate heart, and a caring hand that reached out whenever needed.

Suddenly, tragically, and way too soon, Lucia Bitondo died last week.

We will miss you, Lucia.

Lucia at the airport; with Gianni Bragagnolo; Alba destination reps ‘90s.

Lucia is remembered by her friends:

Gianni Bragagnolo
“Lucia, for over three decades, was THE pillar of ALBATours, Sunquest and Thomas Cook passengers Airport Customer Service. Always ready with a big smile to greet, to help, to direct people. Always ready to be at the airport at anytime of the day or night. Never tired and never complained! Her goal was to please everybody.

Lucia had a big heart for everyone. She loved to be with people and to make them happy.

She was immensely proud of the company that she was working for. But I have to say that she was extremely proud of ALBATOURS: a real love affair. A real sincere, honest, great person. She will be remembered and missed by everyone.

Thank you Lucia, we have learned a lot from your great heart!”

Dina Bertolo
We mourn the loss of our shining light and a remarkable industry legend. Lucia made everyone feel loved and relevant. It was a blessing to know her and a privilege to have cherished memories of her.

One of my many favourites is the time I was tasked to teach Lucia how to be an airport rep, back in the mid 80’s. It was a cold, snowy day and she showed up promptly at 3:30am at the ALBATours counter. She must have not slept all night and arrived directly from the disco because her body glitter was glistening through her black and red suit (remember, this was the 80’s…). But hey – this is Lucia – and the glitter only complimented her already sparkling personality.

It took all of 3 minutes to train the unsinkable Lucia. When I discreetly pointed out the “Queen” of the airport (the Sunquest rep), she glared at me and said “Oh really? Give me 2 weeks and I will be Queen”.

And Queen Lucia she became and held that title permanently.

Lucia loved everything life had to offer, but what she revered most was her friends (and more friends), her famous Latin Lust parties and boat cruises, ALBATours, anything Cuba, outlandish costumes, Carmen Miranda-ish hats, zany accessories, traveling the world and making everyone feel special.Lucia’s spirit lives on in the memories of those of us who loved her.

Maryann Capone
“Lucia, our lives will never the be the same with you in it. Your impact on all of us will live on forever. Shine bright in Heaven as you did on Earth, our beautiful Lucia.’

Domenic Mazzei
“A beautiful shining star may be gone from this earth, but will never be forgotten. My heart is broken.”

Pat Lista
“Miss Alba. One of the most wonderful women in the world. You will be missed by many.”

Brent Carnegie
“I can’t believe she’s gone. Was there ever a person with such a big personality and such a big heart. She will be missed.”

Todd Kirlik
“Lucia was way ahead of her time, she dared to be different. While many of us were busy conforming to general society expectation, Lucia was doing her thing with genuine authenticity, making everyone she interacted with smile. Each encounter had made you just want more of her! A total professional, her passion and loyalty to her work was very important to her, her connection to our industry is deep and meaningful.”

Dane Bonello
There is another Angel in heaven. Lucia, I will miss your laugh, friendship, the FAMs we were on together, our dinners and telephone chats. I will always remember you as I walk the beaches of the world and sit in the sun knowing you are there in spirit.

To Lucia’s family – my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Memories of Lucia

Alba reunion
Manny Fontenla Novoa, Lucia, Michael Friisdahl at Thomas Cook event
Lucia and I.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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