In February 2019 I had the chance to fly to Valencia every weekend with Alitalia in business class. Five weekends and a stopover in Roma resulted in twenty business class flights in Alitalia, enough to make an extended review of their A320 product.
My journey started at Brussels Airport. The main carrier of this airport is Brussels Airlines. I’m used to their Star Alliance lounge “The Loft”, but as I flew a Skyteam partner, I had access to a different lounge: The Diamond lounge. This pretty basic lounge has a view on the cargo-side of the airport. Drinks and food are very limited in this lounge. The interior is old and not so clean, so not much positive to write about this lounge. Before leaving the lounge I even ended up writing a complaints form because there was mouldy bread in the baskets!
SkyPriority is a hit and miss with Alitalia. I have been able to check-in very smoothly. Other times people just passed through to SkyPriority and the check-in agents didn’t even care. Two other occasions, where everything was strictly followed, I had been told to move to the economy class row for check-in. Their tone changed when I said I fly business class. It may sound I had a DYKWIA moment, but the staff should just ask or check a flyer their booking class or status instead of guessing by look. Even better, SkyPriority is not arranged in all airports. Fast lane access through security is not allowed in Valencia Airport for instance.
Time to review the in-flight part. I really like Aegean business class, as they have consistent service and good food, so I like to use them as a comparison. On one of the twenty flights, I was offered a welcome drink. There is no menu so you have to ask what kind of drinks they have. Actually, the service is very basic and I only had a few senior flight attendants who were a bit more attentive. Out of all twenty flights I had only seen three different lunch or dinner meals! The meals weren’t bad but you’d expect they would have some choices or at least a variety from week to week. The three meal I have seen are shown below. You do not get any choice, you get what they serve you.
On the return flights from Rome to Brussels, I had a morning flight, which served breakfast. The two breakfasts I have seen are shown below.
Sometimes they don’t want to open a bottle of wine if only a few people fly in business class. The flight attendant asks if you want sparkling wine instead. If you agree, you’ll be served Italian Prosecco.
After your meal, you may get Italian chocolate. From then on, you can expect to see the flight attendants disappear from business class until landing. Luckily, you’ll have some nice views of the Alps from your window.
The cabin is similar to most intra-European business class cabins. A curtain is used to separate business class with economy class and the middle seat is blocked for your comfort. Something that Intra-European SAS should learn from. Business class flights from Rome to Valencia was generally empty, while the flights between Brussels and Rome were usually packed.
The lounge in Fiumicino Rome Airport (FCO) can be found at the D gates, which is quite a walk from the B gates. If you have a short layover in Rome it is not worth to go. On top of that, I always got ‘bussed’ in FCO Airport so before you reach the terminal, over 30 minutes have passed already.
The lounge can be quite packed, but this lounge is one of the few lounges where drinks are served at a bar. There is also some lasagna during the day. The lounge closes at 22:30 unfortunately. If you’re planning an overnight at Rome Airport, you might have noticed that the city centre is quite far from the airport and that airport hotels are very expensive in Rome. If you want to save on that, you can go to the B gates to the relax zone, where you’ll find seats. Expect to have a low quality of sleep, as cleaning personnel doesn’t care about your sleep and talk on their phone or sing during their job.
The lounge in Valencia is always quite calm. The food option is fairly limited but drink offerings are nice though. I like the lounge for some reason. At least something to look forward to after being denied at the fast lane in Valencia.
My overall experience with Alitalia is not great, not bad. They have a product that is similar to many competitors but not as good as Aegean. However, it is better than SAS. I miss the fact that you don’t get a meal selection or that the pre-departure drink and wet towel is missing. If you have to travel frequently, avoid Alitalia if you don’t want to eat the same meal every time.