Once in FCO I followed the signs to connecting flights and took the train to the main terminal. After going through a quick and friendly security check I tried to find the closest Casa Alitalia lounge near my departure gate. I stopped by a AZ transit desk to inquire about my flight and the agent said that he didn't work for AZ and that the agent should be back soon. Ok, so I checked again and the desk was labeled AZ, there was an agent there but he didn't work for AZ. I thought of the title of a Magritte painting at this point. "Ceci n'est pas un …."
So I used this experience as an opportunity to exercise my resourcefulness and once I found the flight screens I located my flight and went to the "B" gates. I had to go through passport control and once at the other side there was an AZ agent standing to assist passengers. She directed to the lounge near the "D" gates and once I arrived I was welcomed by an efficient agent. I asked for a shower and she took me there right away. However, she did not have the keys to the shower rooms and asked me to wait for a minute with a smile. Then the person in charge of cleaning came up and she used the end of a fork to pry the door open. OK…that is reassuring!
i entered into this "closet" of a shower room and was surprised that there was not a toilet, just the shower.
An assortment of toiletries was available on top of the sink counter and a pair of open plastic slippers were placed by the shower. i did not use the slippers.
After cleaning up I decided to visit the WC's. So I went into the first one and there is a toilet seat missing along with evidence on the floor of people missing the mark while urinating. At this point I thought that the public WC's outside were exponentially better than these ones found at an "exclusive" lounge. So I went into the other toilet and at least this one had its seat still attached.
The lounge was full and I had to go all the way to the back by the individual desks to find somewhere to sit. This was a small lounge with a few partitions to offer some sort of privacy. I did not bother taking pictures of the sitting area since it was so crowded.
There was an interesting display of figurines with the history of AZ uniforms at the entrance.
There was a small buffet with a few items and a salad bar. One annoying thing was that the refrigerators containing the water and soft drinks were on top of the buffet and one had to wait until the person piling up his plate with this sumptuous feast finished before accessing the drinks. Of course, since there were so many people hungry at this time and every time food was replenished there was a swarm of people hovering like locust it was slightly frustrating getting the drinks. There has to be a better arrangement.
I decided to browse the internet and when I came across the news of traffic control strike in Greece I nearly had a heart attack. I was going to connect there in a few days and my master plan will be doomed. Thankfully I kept reading and it actually stated that the strike was cancelled and flights will resume as normal. Oh i needed to wake up and stay alert after this long flight.
So I left the lounge and decided to get to my gate earlier, even it that meant standing there instead of spending one more minute in this crowded zoo.
A quick visit to the WC's around the terminal confirmed my earlier suspicions.
The agents eventually show up and I must say that the new uniforms look sharp. You could also tell and some of the staff wore them with pride. Why can't U.S. carriers invest in some good uniforms? let alone ones that "itch" according to the latest complain from FA's of one of the big 3 U.S. carriers.
Embarking was done orderly with priority given to people in wheelchair and elderly passengers followed by J. Stepping into the plane I was greeted by the purser and took my seat. The cabin looks really pleasant and AZ did a great job with upgrading the cabin.
My seat with the whole row for myself. ;)
View from my seat.
Pre-dept. drink was offered. I just had water. Come to think of it, I never saw the bloody orange juice on this flight neither. Did AZ discontinued it?
Door closed and taxiing out to the runway.
Old AZ - new AZ.
After leveling off the service starts with the distribution of packaged towels. The flight attendant giving them out reminds me of Giuletta Masina from "Nights of Cabiria".
The purser asked me if I want to have the snack. I replied with an affirmative.
The catastrophic snack! What happened?
First, the serving is small. Second, the presentation with "exploding" bits around the plate is awful. Third, the chicken brochette is a little burned and dry. Fourth, the whole ensemble is tasteless including the small tomato stuffed with rice. Fifth, the dessert is very industrial tasting and I cannot discern what flavor it is.
The only good thing about this snack was the peach juice .
The purser was very good and made frequent passes with drinks. I asked for hot tea and he inquired if i wanted lemon on it. Before arrival he offered some chocolate or candy from a tray.
Descending into AMS.
Taxiing to the gate.
Plane at the gate.
Casa Alitalia Piazza Venezia
Rome - FCO
Amsterdam - AMS
FCO can be an overwhelming airport to connect and the layout is somewhat confusing but the security and passport control were fast and efficient.
AZ has a few lounges at its hub, but the one at the "D" gates that i visited was not up to par and it was crowded, stuffy and small. Catering is fine but the layout is not very user friendly, especially with the cold drinks and water contained above the buffet. The staff was fine and professional with a friendly attitude (both customer service and cleaning).
The flight itself was fine. Cabin was very stylish and felt welcoming. Having a row to myself was a big plus and I like the colors of the seats. The purser was friendly and professional which makes the flight more enjoyable. Catering was the low point here and the snack was just horrendous. At least there was an attempt to serve a hot dish instead of a cold one.
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