TESTED BY Freddy Sherman
PLANE TYPE A330-200
SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
SEAT PITCH 44 in/112cm
SEAT WIDTH 21 in/53cm
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
PRICE Online round-trip fares for a restricted, 30-day-advance-purchase ticket between JFK and FCO for summer travel is $7,045.
CHECK-IN AND BOARDING: At JFK, there’s a small lounge off the general check-in area allowing for a very private, relaxed check-in process. Aside from food and drinks, a row of gate agents handles check-ins and other flight issues. At the gate, the boarding process was fast and easy with a dedicated line for Business Class (and Priority) passengers, along with a separate jetway leading to the Business Class cabin.
THE SEAT: The flat-bed seat is both comfortable and beautiful, handcrafted in leather by Poltrona Frau, the same company that makes the interiors of Ferrari automobiles.
The luxurious Business Class seat is crafted in leather by the same company that makes Ferrari car interiors
The luxurious Business Class seat is crafted in leather by the same company that makes Ferrari car interiors (Photo by Freddy Sherman)
The 1-2-1 Business Class cabin configuration offers a nice degree of privacy, especially for the window seats. Three of the five pairs of center seats are closer together (1,3 and 5 E and G), two pairs have more separation between them (2 and 4 D and H). The ones close together are referred to as “honeymoon” seats and may be too close together for solo travelers. For sleeping, a Frette linen sheet set is fitted on the seat and a full-size pillow is provided. One minor complaint, the IFE system had a nice number of titles, but they were presented in a rather clunky interface with no previews available.
THE FLIGHT: Alitalia separates itself from other carriers by offering a level of service more appropriate to a five-star hotel or Michelin-starred restaurant.
A crew member is fitted for a uniform at the Alitalia Customer Excellence Training Academy in Rome
A crew member is fitted for a uniform at the Alitalia Customer Excellence Training Academy in Rome (Photo by Freddy Sherman)
The on-board experience is created by an entire training facility, called the “Alitalia Customer Excellence Training Academy” which focuses on delivering the ultimate customer experience. The training center, part of the airline’s operational base at FCO airport, includes communication training, grooming and style workshops as well as instruction in food preparation, plating and service.
Food and wine on-board were quite delicious. The foodie menu features products and dishes from different Italian regions, changing every few months. For my flights, the menu showcased food from the Northern Italian region of Piedmont. The impressive wine list, which only included Italian vintages, had selections from the Piedmont and neighboring Liguria regions of Italy.
Both the food menu and the wine list included a page of detailed background information about the source region, along with technical descriptions of each wine. The wine was joined with a selection of Italian beers (Friulian, Tuscan and Sicilian-style), brewed to be enjoyed at 40,000 feet. And of course, as with every great Italian meal, copious amounts of Ferrari Maximum Brut sparkling wine were served.
The airline proudly serves Italian products like this delicious Ferrari Maximum Brut sparkling wine
The airline proudly serves Italian products like this delicious Ferrari Maximum Brut sparkling wine (Photo by Freddy Sherman)
There was also a dessert wine and a selection of aperitifs. The available WiFi service for the flight was speedy enough and worked well.
ARRIVAL: With a dedicated Business Class / Priority line for immigration at FCO, the arrival in Rome was very fast. Also with a fast trip through customs I was quickly aboard the Leonardo Express train to Rome’s Termini Station.
VERDICT: Alitalia doesn’t call its customers “passengers” – they’re “guests,” as at a fine restaurant or luxury hotel. The guest-focused attitude, found with both ground staff and cabin crew, makes flying a pleasure. The airline successfully delivers an authentic Italian experience in service, food, amenities and hospitality, something you can’t find anywhere else.
Everyone I met, cabin crew, flight crew and ground staff, all took pride in their Italian airline
Everyone I met, cabin crew, flight crew and ground staff, all took pride in their Italian airline (Photo by Freddy Sherman)