October 26, 2018

Flying Alitalia Business Class from LAX to Rome; An Enjoyable Experience

When I first booked my Alitalia flight, I said to myself “it’s going to be bad, but I have no choice,” and thought that it would be below expectations exactly like the business class cabin between Rome and Beirut. I remember the seats to be green, service to be bad, planes to be old... today’s flight made me change my mind completely and reconsidering Alitalia for flights over the Atlantic. Large seats that transform into beds, a wide choice of food, good service, and personalized attention. The journey starts with a glass of champagne...

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I love it how the green color has disappeared. Alitalia’s new colors are classy and upscale while keeping some touches of happiness. Camel and dark blue with lines of burgundy. The menus have three colors; burgundy, white and blue. The green color has disappeared completely.

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On today’s menu: 

  • Appetizers: cured Italian ham served with vegetable compote. Seafood salad.
  • First course: rice timbale in a mushroom and aromatic herbs sauce, served with shrimp. Short pasta Pomodoro with fresh San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and basil.
  • Second course: chicken supreme with a cheese fondue heart accompanied by Tecia style potatoes and fresh asparagus. Filet of bah fish served with mushrooms and Tecia style potatoes.
  • Accompaniments: crisp dice green salad.
  • Cheese: Italian cheese board with dried fruit and fig compote.
  • Dessert: selection of seasonal fresh fruits 
  • Traditional Italian small pastries.

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I loved the wide wine selection, the coffee and tea menu, the food menu that gives the choice of two first dishes and two-second course plates as well as the pairing of wine for every dish. 

Things to change and improve:

  • “Put off your phone”; come on! Half the planet’s airlines have WiFi and internet onboard, and you still ask your passengers to put off their phones?!
  • The security video is so old-school; badly done, low quality 3D animation. 
  • The youngest team member has my dad’s age. Young talented crew members are needed.
  • The entertainment program is so outdated! Unbelievably slow with software that’s probably ten years old, every movie needs an eternity to load. That’s not acceptable in 2018!
  • I didn’t have electricity during the flight: probably a fuse exploded.

As we reached cruising altitude, I found the movie “Blood Diamond” and prepared to have dinner: choose from two starters, two first courses, and two-second courses.

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The good: porcelain plates and fine china is used onboard Alitalia.

The food experience:

  • I prefer to have a tray instead of receiving one plate after the other as if you were in a restaurant; a tray and then the plates should come on it. Bread, prosciutto, a glass of wine... every passenger is served individually.  Plastic filled butter, microwave heated bread, stale vegetables and the two slices of prosciutto. I like the wine though.
  • Penne pasta with a sweet tomato sauce. Half cooked, a part dry and another al dente, the pasta are too far from what I expected on an Italian airline. The sweetness is unpleasant and the texture disturbing.
  • The fish is saltier than it should be; juicy and well cooked, the plate’s overall taste is good enough but doesn’t offer memorable flavors.
  • Cheese; three little tiny pieces of cheese, two biscuits, and no bread. I was expecting more from Italian people.

With every plate wine was matched; bottles were opened only for me, and I really appreciated this.

I don’t know if Alitalia’s food is bad or is it the kitchens of Los Angeles’ Airport. Desserts reminded me of the cheap pastries up in the villages. After all, everything lacks life and finesse. Breakfast was served without the yogurt for some reason and cheese without the fig compote. 

Anyway, I slept for seven long hours like a baby; that awesome flatbed is what will make me travel with Alitalia again and again when Air France’s Boeing 777-300ER is not operating on the route. The A380 still uses the old declinable seats.

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Even though not too professional and lacking class and finesse, next time I have a long-haul flight over the Atlantic I will choose Alitalia; it’s cheaper than the other Skyteam members and their seats turn into beds. The A380 seats on Air France still don’t, unless you have the chance to travel on the Boeing 777.

PS: your biggest problem is the airport. Two hours at passport control and I heard that some people waited for four hours during summer. Treating non-European tourists this way is unacceptable.

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