Hi and welcome to this segment when I take a very much anticipated trip on AZ long haul in Business. I've been intrigued for some time about AZ's "Magnifica" class and despite some disappointing reviews that this company has gathered, that has not discouraged me to want to experience it.
I used YYZ as a positioning point because when I was planning trip trip months ago and wanted to use my DL Skymiles to redeem this trip, nothing was available for a reasonable amount of miles out of the U.S. So I decided to check the inventory from YYZ or MEX and both showed availability at the standard redemption rate. I opted for YYZ and used DL miles at a discounted rate to get me to YYZ.
I stayed at the Hilton airport overnight. The following morning i visited the fitness center and relaxed by the pool before my flight.
I decided to do online check-in with AZ and after finishing the process I received the message that my boarding pass was ready to be picked up at the airport. Is this a joke? I even questioned if I logged into a legitimate website to check-in. At this point I felt frustrated and I used the feedback at the end of the process to comment on this experience. How timely! Honestly I think that this defeats the whole purpose of conveniently printing your own boarding passes and give you flexibility and control of your travel experience. Because of this, I arrived at YYZ by 15:00 for a 22:25 flight and walked outside the security area like a lost soul in limbo until the AZ opened at 18:30. It doesn't help that there are no decent restaurants in this area so I had lunch at Wendy's. Also I am surprised about the lack of seating in the terminal. This whole part of T3 needs a major renovation in my opinion.
It's "déjà-vu". I felt like a hamster in a laboratory running in circles.
At 18:30 the agents are still setting up the counter and five minutes later the check-in began. I was helped by a friendly agent who verified that I was "checked-in" and quickly printed my boarding passes. She wished me a good trip and advised me about the location of the KL lounge. Security was fairly quick and after collecting my stuff I headed to the lounge.
I was greeted warmly by an AF staff and upon showing my boarding pass and AZ card she advised me that I was already on the list and welcomed me to step inside. The lounge was almost empty and I was able to explore the different areas. Catering was decent with several spreads including two hot dishes and soups.
Next to reception is the buffet.
Hot items (Butter chicken or beef Stroganoff) and two soups (tomato or asparagus).
I really liked the asparagus soup and had two servings of it which I regretted later on when I was onboard AZ.
At 21:10 I left for the gate and upon arrival there the scene was chaotic with people everywhere. Boarding was delayed a good 10 min. and started by lining people up a few feet away from the podium. There were several wheelchair passengers and not enough room for Sky Priority to line up. I think the setting of the restaurant tables at YYZ contribute to this problem. They don't seem contained within the establishment and spill into the gate area.
The nice crew at the gate.
An agent checked for docs before allowing people to proceed to the the gate where another agent scanned the boarding pass. Upon entering the aircraft I was greeted by two FA's and directed to my seat. Menus were already placed in the stand next to the seat. In addition to that a bottle of water and headphones were in the storing compartment under the seat control. A duvet package with pillow, duvet and slipper was also provided.
One negative point about the cabin - no overhead storage for the middle rows which is disappointing for those sitting there.
Pre-dept. drink of water, orange juice and Prosecco. The orange juice tasted very industrial and I did not finish it. Now that I think about it, blood orange juice was never offered.
A tray with periodicals and magazines were offered by the flight attendant passed very quickly.
Amenity kit - probably one of the highlights of flying AZ. Their kits are top notch but this time Ferragamo is out and Bulgari is in.
Hot towels were offered.
IFE screen. I did not watch any movies so I can't comment much on the system. From the little I saw I thought that it needed better resolution.
Before the door closed the purser gave me a personal welcome and thanked me for flying AZ. He let me know that he was available if I needed anything which sets the tone for a good flight and was appreciated.
Take off. Bye Toronto.
Once the flight leveled off menu orders were taken.
Before the meal service I went to the WC and I noticed that there were 2 of them in the cabin - one in the front and one on the side of the galley behind the J cabin. For some reason the one in the front is closed for passengers, but I was allowed to use it by the FA. The WC was average and did not have lotions or additional cosmetics. Remember I said earlier that I regretted having two bowls of asparagus soup? Well as it happened, after I finish my business the toilet would not flush. I pressed that darn button like 5x and it wouldn't work. Resigned to my embarrassing fate, I tell the purser that there is a problem with the WC and he went in right away to check on it. A few minutes later he tells me discreetly that the problem has been fixed. Things like these only happen to me. But seriously isn't having 1 WC for the J cabin a bit inconvenient, especially when it is shared with the passengers from Premium Economy behind the galley? This created back up lines in the galley towards the end of the flight.
Back in my seat I lowered the tray table located on the side and the FA brought the linen and set the "table".
The service commenced with an amuse bouche. I noticed that carts were never used during the whole meal service and everything was hand delivered. In addition, beverages were refilled and the purser assisted the two crew member with the service. It felt very professional, efficient and soliciting asking if passengers wanted extra drinks or a change of wines with each course. There was no choice of bread from a basket. It was already placed on one's tray.
Traditional eggplant timbale. The flight attendant asked for my beverage and I chose the Apianae Moscato. Called me a heretic but I just had a sweet dessert wine during the whole meal. I am a bit unconventional at times.
The menu said orecchiette with turnip tops but instead it contained broccoli florets.
"Pugliese style" baked bream with sauteed courgettes and fried eggplant cubes. The dish was a revelation. It had an enticing aroma when it was brought to me and the fish was flaky and moist. It was seasoned delicately and the freshness of the ingredients really came through. It was one of the best main dishes that I had in an airplane.
Italian cheeses served with grapes, carrot and celery s tick accompanied by water crackers. No dried fruits or fig compote according to the menu.
A round of hot towels to mark the end of the service.
Beverages were set in the galley for passengers to help themselves.
Once the service finished the crew retrieved until breakfast time.
Breakfast started 1:30 hr before arrival and it consisted of a continental set up with fruits, warm pastries, juice and hot beverage of choice. Yogurt was not provided on the tray but it was listed on the menu.
A hot towel to wake you up.
FA with the chic uniform.
As I said before, the availability of 1 WC for the entire J cabin is ridiculous and this crated a "line" in the galley. To alleviate this problem some passengers were allowed into the front WC accompanied by the FA.
Preparing for landing in FCO. The Italian scenery is breathtaking.
Taxiing to the gate.
Once at the gate, there was some confusion as to which door was used. First we were waiting at 2L but after a good 10 min. 1L in the front was opened and everybody rushed there.
Air France KLM Lounge
Toronto - YYZ
Rome - FCO
I was looking forward to flying AZ long haul in J for some time and I was glad that I had the opportunity to do so on this flight. Despite the negative reputation that AZ has received on different sites, my experience with them on this particular flight proved to be good. The cabin crew was always smiling and had a friendly disposition marked by pleasant and professional interaction. The personal welcome by the purser was a very nice touch that was not expected. Beverages were topped off during the meal service and everything was well paced and according to the passenger's timing, just like any good product in J. I took half a point off because during boarding nobody offered to take my jacket to store it and I saw some passengers handing theirs to the crew to store them.
The situation with the WC is another story. Having 1 WC available for J pax at all times and sharing it with the Y+ cabin is a no-no. The lack of overhead bins to store luggage if you are seated in the middle row of the J cabin is another big disappointment. The seat itself was comfortable and the direct aisle access set up is a big plus. Personally the lack of enough WC's is a big turn off for me and I wouldn't like to fly in this aircraft in the future.
Catering was good and I wish that I had the appetizer trolley to choose from, but due to the late dept. of this flight I can understand why it is not offered. The main dish was the highlight of the dinner service for me with a great dish that was fresh and well executed. A salad was also offered along with the cheese course after the main dish. In this case the salad was more of an afterthought and served as a palate cleanser instead of an additional course. I love that AZ offers regional dishes and promotes its culinary traditions as an ambassador of Italian culture.
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