I went on a two week holiday in June to: - visit Moldova, one of the few countries in Europe where I'd never been before, - visit Transnistria, a self-proclaimed independent country, - visit Odessa, a city where I'd been planning to go for a very long time, - visit a friend in Tel-Aviv, - fly to Geneva to meet my family taking the direct Icelandair flight from Keflavík, and then spend a week in France.
I needed to fly from Tel-Aviv to Geneva and I considered many options, both in economy and business class. Shall I just fly direct with Easyjet? Or fly Swiss to Zurich and take the train? Or fly Royal Jordanian via Amman? I eventually chose to fly Alitalia to Athens and then the next morning from Athens to Geneva with Aegean for the simple reason that with a scheduled departure time of 19.55 this was one of the last flights so I could maximize my stay in Tel-Aviv.
Starting a week before departure I received the same push e-mail from Alitalia five times: bid to upgrade to business class. The e-mail said “Rilassati nelle nostre lounge e approfitta dei banchi check in, controlli di sicurezza e imbarchi prioritari.” and “A bordo della Business Class i piatti vengono proposti a rotazione e variati nel rispetto delle diverse stagioni, ogni pasto è accompagnato da una selezione di vini.” (All e-mails from Alitalia to me were in Italian, although I booked in English). The lowest bid was 130 €. While I usually go for an upgrade bid (see my flight report from Keflavík to Copenhagen) this time I didn’t for several reasons: there is no lounge at Terminal 1 at Tel-Aviv airport, so this was simply false advertising; I had pre-booked an emergency exit row seat in economy which offers more legroom than a business class seat; I didn’t have any high expectations about Alitalia’s business class meal on such a short flight.
Anyway I asked at check-in if there was an offer to upgrade to business class. The answer? “It’s not worth it, there’s no lounge and only very little food onboard.” OK then…
So my flight was booked with a departure time of 19.55. The day before, just out of curiosity, I checked the price of my flight – and I saw that the departure time changed to 17.40! I checked my e-mails: no message at all about it from Alitalia. What do you think of an airline that does not notify its passengers that the flight leaves two hours earlier?
I got to the airport about two and a half hours before (the new) departure time. I was through the security questions in five minutes, I was checked-in in about 10 minutes, passport control took two minutes, and I was through security in about 7 minutes, so I had plenty of time before my flight.
Alitalia uses Terminal 1 in Tel-Aviv, the same as Ryanair, Wizzair and other low-cost airlines.
Yes, the terminal is very basic in terms of facilities and services (Terminal 3 in Tel-Aviv is beautiful and has a good range of services). On the plus side, it was not crowded, there was free wi-fi and I could charge my phone and laptop. If you’re hungry your options are limited.
I had this:
Some other parts of the terminal look nicer with a few shops and ample seating.
Important: you can charge your devices.
There is a view of the apron although there were not many aircraft.
Boarding started at 17.35 for a scheduled departure time of 17.40 and was by bus.
Some interesting views before boarding:
Our aircraft today was an 10 year old A320.
There was an aircraft change from A321 to A320 (no notification of course) but my pre-booked emergency exit row seat was changed to 11C at check-in so I still had the extra legroom – which I appreciated. So the legroom was good.
There was no welcome at boarding. The crew member at the door was busy setting something on the PA, while the two others standing at my row were busy chatting with each other, ignoring the passengers completely. On the plus side, the cabin was in good condition with the standard 3+3 configuration.
Boarding was completed at 18.15 for a scheduled departure time of 17.40. At 18.30 a further delay of 40 minutes was announced so I had time to read this in the on-board magazine:
Take-off was eventually at 18.50. Things got back to normal after take-off except the man who was sitting by the window in my row beong very worried about the otherwise perfectly normal engine sounds. Meal service started about 45 minutes after take-off; a soft drink (water, coke, juice) was offered alongside a small pack of biscuits.
Alitalia’s route network:
Start of descent was at 20.15 and landing was at 20.30, 35 minutes behind schedule. I was through passport control in about two seconds and outside the terminal building in maybe a further two minutes.
Thank you for reading my flight report and please feel free to leave your comments about Alitalia.
Tel Aviv - TLV
Athens - ATH
I’ve flown over 700 segments in commercial aircraft and I don’t remember ever having seen an airline not to notify its passengers about such an important change of schedule. Terminal 1 at TLV is a low-cost terminal with limited facilities but at least I was through security fast and it was not crowded. The flight itself was OK except the very poor attitude of the cabin crew.
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