This is the second leg of my spring trip home to visit my parents. I'm excited because the 777-300ER is Alitalia's new plane. It's kind of weird that they're using a new plane as they're going through bankruptcy proceedings, but it's a better choice than the A330-200 or 777-200 on the same route. I chose seat 10D, an aisle seat in the middle of the last row because I upgraded over the phone and I couldn't choose my seat until check in opened, which was 27.5 hours before departure. There are 40 seats in the business class cabin. The seat map's only available on the Alitalia website when booking or managing an existing booking, so I took a photo of the map while managing my check-in. As you can see, Alitalia's long haul business class has the same layout as Etihad's old business class. I have no details on the pitch or seat width, though the width is probably 21-22 inches, since that's what it is on the 777-200 and A330-200 that Alitalia operates on the same route. Check- in was easy- I checked in online at the same time as I checked in for the first segment, CAI-FCO. My boarding pass was emailed to me, but I still needed to print it at the check-in counter.
The seat map for the 777-300 isn't on Seatguru, Seatmaestro, or any other site yet, so here's the map from my check in.
After getting off the bus from my previous flight, I followed the connecting flights signs to a security checkpoint. There was no sky priority line- only a fast track lane for passengers with flights in 60 minutes or less. The line took a while because everyone wearing hijab had to go into a private room with a female officer, remove the scarf, and do a chemical scan. It was a minor inconvenience that took me about 5 minutes. It was odd though, because every other airport I've been to (JFK, Toronto, London, Paris, Doha, Amman, Amsterdam, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Tunis) just pats down the scarf from the outside. Oh well. The signs to the lounge were unclear. I followed the lounge signs upstairs to a train stop, then rode the train to the satellite terminal E. I asked the Casa Alitalia lounge staff if there were another lounge in the main Terminal E. They told me there was, but that the satellite lounge was much better. So I decided to stay until I found out which gate my flight would be leaving from. I had breakfast in the lounge: bresaola, brie cheese, a churro-like donut, and a slice of turkey. I had blood orange juice as well- and it was much tastier and sweeter than the blood orange juice I had on the CAI-FCO flight.
The lounge was empty when I came in, but it got busier as the morning went on. The furniture reminded me of the Etihad lounges, with the high back chairs and the power outlets in the tables. The large dining tables were different though. Quite frankly, the Casa Alitalia lounge was one of the best lounges I've been to in Europe. It was better than the Admirals Club in Paris, and comparable to the Etihad lounge in Paris, if not better. The difference between the cabin staff and the lounge staff was night and day. The lounge staff were involved, proactive, and proud of their product. At around 11, a lounge employee came around with a cart offering fresh fruit juice and garlic knots, cocktails and mini pizzas. The breakfast spread was switched out for an amazing lunch buffet of freshly made pasta, freshly made pizza, desserts, and a salad bar, as well as pre-made salads in individual bowls and cups. The lounge also had a prayer room- but I didn't get a picture because I was in a hurry.
Boarding was at 1:45, but the gate wasn't announced until 1:20. Thankfully, the satellite terminal was the right terminal, and I headed to gate E36 to board, passing some beautiful pictures of Italy on the way.
The boarding was as organized as possible for FCO. The Sky Priority line went quickly, but after getting our final boarding pass check and walking through the gate, there was no one to direct us. Four of us stopped, unsure whether to take the left- to a waiting Alitalia plane, or the stairs- to the bus gate. One woman said it was probably a bus gate, so we took the stairs. We found an Alitalia employee who asked us if we were business class, then directed us to a small bus. We rode the bus to the plane. The plane was so beautiful, but when I tried to get a shot, I was informed that pictures of the plane weren't allowed. This time, when I boarded, I was welcomed aboard and directed to my seat. I was one of the first people on the plane, so I got some shots of the premium economy cabin and the economy cabin. The economy cabin was TIGHT. I barely fit in the seat, and I'm a small person- 159 cm tall (5'2'') , and I'm not obese either.
The business class cabin was so new that the tray table was still stiff. Unfortunately, the faucet in the bathroom was already damaged, and they only provided soap- no other toiletries. The amenity kit made up for it though- all Bulgari products- perfume, lotion, face cream, and lip balm. There was also a brush and a toothbrush and toothpaste set.
As more people boarded, the flight attendant offered welcome drinks- the choice in business was orange juice, water, or wine, but the premium economy cabin had a choice of blood orange juice as well. We were given a food menu, lavazza espresso menu, and wine menu. Here's the food menu:
We left 40 minutes late because they had to keep busing passengers to the aircraft.
The flight attendant took meal orders randomly. When we started taxiing and I still hadn't had my order taken, I asked a flight attendant and she told me after takeoff. Luckily, we were in line for a long time, so I got my first choices for everything.
I chose the eggplant starter, the pasta with chickpeas, the sea bass, the cheese plate and the dessert. The eggplant starter was bad. The eggplant was tough and undercooked and the stuffing was tasteless with the slightest hint of salt.
The pasta was disappointing. I had had amazing pasta in the lounge and I was hoping to have a similar experience on board. Unfortunately, they decided to give it the economy class treatment. The pasta was chewy and the edges were burnt.
The fish, then, was a welcome improvement. It was seared perfectly and the flavors came together wonderfully.
I loved the cheese plate as well. The description of the dessert- dark chocolate truffle didn't give it justice. It was better than some chocolate desserts I've had in Qatar Airways business class. I had a cappuccino to finish.
The movie selection was pretty good. They had the Notebook, 3 Star Wars movies, quite a few tv shows- 5 episodes of each, and some foreign films. I watched a movie called Rara, about a girl living with her mom and her mom's partner in Chile, a couple of NCIS episodes, then went to sleep. I woke up for the pre-landing meal. It was cheese and salami, with a fruit plate. I declined the cheese and salami plate and had the fruit. The fruit plate was perfect: pineapple, kiwi, and currants. I had some blood orange juice with it.
I watched the first half hour of Star Wars Phantom Menace as we landed. After landing, I went through CBP in 5 minutes. It was easier because I always get the X on my customs form, so I was the first person in line. Priority tags on luggage don't mean anything with Alitalia so I had to wait a half hour for my bag to come out. All in all, it was a good flight.
Casa Alitalia Piazza Di Spagna
Rome - FCO
New York - JFK
The best part about Alitalia is the lounge: its food and staff were perfect. It's a glimpse of what the airline could be, but isn't on the most important part of the experience: the actual flight. They do have the potential to be a great airline, but the flight attendants need more training to provide a really premium experience. The flight was good, but the food could have been better. That said, the flight attendants were much better than on my CAI-FCO flight, as were the ground crew. Maybe it's more of a supervision issue. I loved being on a new plane, but am so thankful that i wasn't in economy class. 9 hours of that would be torturous. The premium economy cabin looked all right though- the same as the AF premium economy cabin, which I've flown in before.
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