Flight Review: Alitalia A320 Shorthaul Economy – Rome To Brussels

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Alitalia has been struggling financially as it searches for a major investor, but how is the airline performing in the meantime? Do financial troubles have anything to do with the passenger experience? This will be a review of an Alitalia short-haul economy flight between Rome and Brussels.

The flight was on an Airbus A320. Photo: pkozmin via Pixabay

While a short two-hour flight won’t diagnose or pinpoint what needs to change at Alitalia, we thought a review of the journey would give us a little insight on how it compares with other airlines making similar journies.

The airport and boarding experience

I had to transfer from an Etihad flight arriving at Terminal 1 to the Alitalia flight at Terminal 3. There’s nothing that stands out as special nor particularly bad about transferring through Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

The airport seemed chaotic and lacking a sense of ‘straightforwardness’, but following the signage got me where I needed to go. It’s perhaps slightly better than Paris’ Charles de Gaulle. Between the flights, I had enough time to enjoy Alitalia’s domestic lounge: Casa Alitalia Piazza Venezia. You can check out the review to learn more but in short, it’s a tiny lounge that offers a pleasant enough pre-flight experience.

Boarding was smooth and on-time, and as a SkyTeam Elite status member as I was able to board before the majority of passengers.

A look at ‘business class’ in the foreground with economy behind. Business class is the same as economy with the middle seat blocked off. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Space and seating

The cabin was perfectly fine for a short-haul journey. The seats look and feel quite comfortable and I thought the color schemes and interior were tasteful.

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This flight was one of the rare instances that I found myself in a middle seat. This is because my itinerary was an Etihad-Alitalia codeshare, which apparently made me ineligible to select my seat in advance online with Alitalia – despite my SkyTeam status. Oh well – I’d rather be in a middle seat for a two-hour flight than a 12-hour journey!

A look at the standard economy seat for the A320. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

With 30 inches of pitch, the legroom was fine and not an issue. I’m six feet tall and had sufficient space to stretch out with my backpack under my knees. Otherwise, my backpack fits well under the seat in front of me. Seat width was great at 18 inches – which is actually better than Etihad’s Dreamliner at 17 inches.

Legroom wasn’t a problem at all. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Snacktime

Like many of its fellow legacy carriers, Alitalia still serves snacks and a beverage on its short-haul services. On this flight, the snack was a Pamor-brand bag of taralli – a cracker similar in texture to a breadstick, a pretzel. It was a tiny bag, which is to be expected. The flavor and taste was light but not bad. I had a simple coca-cola as my beverage.

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The inflight snack and beverage. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Overall

There are certain worthwhile benefits and advantages that flying legacy carriers in Europe have over budget airlines. These include:

  • An easy transfer to/from a long-haul flight
  • Oftentimes a more generous baggage policy
  • Mileage accrual and recognition of status for/from alliance airlines
  • Flying from an airport that isn’t poorly connected and in the middle of nowhere (thinking Glasgow Prestwick, Brussels Charleroi, and Paris Beauvais)

However, many of these things may not be a huge concern if you’re an infrequent flyer who packs light. And if the budget airline flies to a ‘main’ airport, then why not pocket the savings?

I found Alitalia’s short-haul economy product to be competitive with other legacy carriers sharing the same airspace. The flight attendants were polite and courteous and the entire journey was smooth and problem-free. On the other hand, I have yet to fly Alitalia for a long-haul journey, which I think is where you would really see how the airline performs.

If you’ve flown Alitalia recently let us know how your experience was by leaving a comment!

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