Tempted by a tantalising one-way fare of just £808 ($1,010), I recently took Alitalia from London to Delhi, via Rome.
I also took the opportunity to record the experience for my YouTube channel:
Transferring non-Schengen to non-Schengen in Rome is easy. Arriving at the E-gates, the Casa Alitalia lounge is just a few minutes walk:
The lounge is open to the airlines listed on the entrance sign as well as Skyteam top tier frequent fliers. I enjoyed the understated design and neutral colour palette of the lounge. I much prefer this approach to over the top bling!
With a live cooking station for pasta and pizza, comprehensive buffet selections and fresh produce everywhere I looked, I was impressed by Alitalia’s food and beverage offering.
The lounge badly suffers from a lack of a business centre. It was very busy, none of the tables or seats are designed for laptop work and it was frustrating to see that such a recently-designed large lounge had missed such an obvious amenity.
My flight departed from the satellite terminal, where flights are listed around 90 minutes before departure.
I was welcomed onboard by the purser. He, along with the rest of the crew, exuded the professionalism of true old hands and I had no complaints at all about how I was looked after for the duration of the flight.
Alitalia business class, sometimes marketed as “Magnifica”, is in a 1-2-1 configuration across all their long haul aircraft. Seats are staggered, with even-numbered seats being “true” window seats.
The seats nearer the aisle suffer from a lack of privacy.
After a quick pre-departure drink of orange juice (champagne or water were also available)…
…we set off into grey skies for the 3,600 miles to Delhi.
The seats are now showing their age and there is nothing revolutionary about them. They are functional, although there is not too much storage unless you place things under the ottoman.
Alitalia has an extraordinary menu on board. This flight’s block time is around 7h30m, so to see such an extensive collection of dishes was both a surprise and a pleasure. The carrier clearly has invested in food and drink service to compensate for the ageing hard product.
Service was prompt and just the right side of being too formal.
The food was very good – everything was delicious and interesting, even though the ravioli second course suffered from a weak presentation.
A genuine four-course meal that left me satisfied – well done, Alitalia. I’d place the food quality in the top 20% of carriers I’ve tried this year.
It was then time for a nap. Alitalia does not have mood lighting and the cabin is exceptionally dark – not so good for pictures (sorry!), but great for sleeping soundly.
The seat converts into a bed, which you can just about make out here! It is a little narrow but otherwise fine.
After a few hours’ sleep, I checked out the IFE. It’s quite limited and well below the level of choice amongst most of the competition.
Headphones are provided, which worked, but I’d recommend bringing your own.
There was an attractive Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit which I even kept to use on future trips. It’s a classy and simple design.
It contained everything you’d expect for a long haul flight.
The second meal was delicious, and (I believe) was arancini. I made an error in my video by saying it was a breakfast; it can’t have been!
The landing was uneventful and I was ejected into the boiling hot terminal at Delhi for my first experience of Indian bureaucracy!
In short, Alitalia is the sick man of Europe, forever flirting with bankruptcy and having been a political football for as long as I can remember.
Still, with the hard product suffering slightly from age and underinvestment, it’s good to note their efforts with food and service. They were excellent, and despite most of the experience as a sum of individual parts being worthy of a shrug, my main memory of the flight is positive thanks to the crew and catering.
Alitalia was the cheapest full-service carrier in Business class for this route when I searched, and I don’t regret flying them. I’d happily choose them again… if the price is right.