This report covers the second part of my journey to South Africa for a bike trip with Alitalia. I booked my ticket for 250 EUR from PRG to JNB returning to CAI in a "special" sale which is so loved. Immediately after purchasing the ticket well in advance, I went to their Plusgrade program and bided for most of my flights. The minimum bid for this leg was 360 EUR. I went for 480 EUR upgrade bid and that was accepted 2 days before my flight took off, exactly at the time the online check-in opened. I was able to check-in and select seats online so I had no issue with the upgrade. For those of you who are considering the upgrade bid for long-haul part of your journey - if it is accepted and you will fly at least part of your journey in business class, all of the other boarding passes will be Skypriority, so I think there is no need for bids for short-haul flights ;-)
Casa Alitalia Lounge
As there are separate reports of Alitalia Lounges in FCO, I decided, as I had plenty of time to spare in Rome, to make the journey of all lounges offered by the airline in FCO just for you. First of all, there is a map of lounges:
1. Piazza Navona Very nice welcome area for Priority passengers. On the right side you can check in yourselves and your luggage, then you can proceed to the left side of the area which is like an Italian café. There is a bar with a coffee machine, you can have a drink and there is also a tiny buffet area for those starving and not able to wait for the real lounge.
3. Piazza Venezia Lounge for european flights. Very basic, if you have time, head to the lounge located in E area (after passport control) because this is the real lounge.
4. Piazza di Spagna Great Lounge, very warm welcome, showers available. The buffet area was not so big at the time I arrived but there was also the fresh cooking stage after a couple of hours. You can have everything you want from the bar, I liked it but let me say…I still love Air Canada Signature Suite and it is the top. Can anybody beat it?
5. Piazza del Popolo This was a hit! First, you have to understand that at FCO they announce gate numbers on the screens just a few minutes before boarding. So even if you have your gate number pre-printed on your boarding pass, it might change anytime. This is the reason why Piazza di Spagna gets crowded at the peak hour. They advise people to stay here until their gate is announced because once you take the train to the satellite terminal, to get back you will have to go through the security check. But if your flight might, according to your information, depart from the satellite, do not think and head there. The lounge is exactly the same with the same front cooking, café, seating, buffet area, and showers, but there is literally nobody. I left Piazza di Spagna 2 hours to my departure when there were so many people that nearly 90% of seats were taken. When I got to Piazza del Popolo, there were only two other people. And a lot of stuff doing nothing. That is also something that makes me wonder how they work. Now I understand Lufthansa plans after the possible takeover of AZ to cut more than 20% of employees because they do not have work for them! They are standing at the door, smiling, talking to each other. Boarding provided by two agents, one is staring on them. And I do not count the crew onboard! There was nearly as much crew as business class passengers! Unbelievable! All in all, if your flight is departing from satellite, do not hesitate and head there!
I was very impressed by the cleanness of the area. I asked for a shower and was immediately taken to one of their nice suites
The gate was just around the corner from the lounge, boarding started 20 minutes behind the schedule. The crew on this flight was nice and attentive. The cabin is starting showing its age. It was quite dirty but the best benefit was there was sitting nobody next to me so I could enjoy my own suite!
Upon boarding, there were awaiting us the menu, wine list, and the coffee list. The blanked, pillow and slippers were also prepared on our seats.
Welcome drink and amenity kit
We were also given the 50 MB free internet voucher which I find very generous. Or no, waiti, that should be standard in the business class! The premium economy got 20 MB.
For a dinner, I started with Campari Spritz which was served along with some canapes…
Then the table was set up which I really like. I hate those airlines serving the dish on the tables. At this point, let me say that Alitalia is well behind they should be in food quality. This veal appetizer with tuna is something I do not understand…
But the primi piatti consisting of pasta with truffle sauce was very good, maybe a little fatty
But the Secondi piatti was a disappointment. It should be slowly cooked medium veal and I expected something like a steak. We got 3 slices of hard meat with no flavor, absolutely dry. Potatoes and green beans were more than overcooked. All in all, I ate only a few pieces of it.
But than cheeses came and I was surprised. I got a huge portion with ice wine, dried plum and goiabada, a sweet from Brasil.
Espresso and the dessert at the end…
The breakfast is another meal I do not understand. This flight was nearly 10 hours and this is what we got:
I think we deserve a better breakfast than just two warmed pieces of bakery and fresh fruit. The menu stated yogurt but that was not served. And how was the breakfast served? Two hours before landing! Rubbish! Everyone was done with it in just minutes and went back to sleep. Why they wake up people so early? Then the crew chatted so maybe if they were working and not having a discussion with colleagues, it might be better…
We landed right on time in sunny South Africa
And let me say that I expected JNB to be a dirty place with chaos everywhere but it is well organized, I really love the option of check-in for domestic flights before you leave the transit area. Very nice!
Casa Alitalia Piazza Navona
Rome - FCO
Johannesburg - JNB
Do I recommend Alitalia Business Class? Well, you might try it and if you do not have high expectations, you might be surprised. But for me, it was just that flight I expected. The recommendation at the end - they have many blankets and pillows left so feel free to ask them to give you one more package and use it as a mattress so you do not have to lie on the seat which was never cleaned and came from Delhi...
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