Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse New York JFK Airport
Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class New York to London
Sheraton Edinburgh Grand Hotel & Spa
British Airways Galleries Club Lounge Edinburgh Airport
Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel
ERSTE Premier Lounge Prague Airport
Czech Airlines Business Class Prague to Rome
Alitalia Business Class Lounge Rome Airport
Le Anfore Lounge Rome Airport
Alitalia A330 Magnifica Class (Business Class) Rome to Boston
Rome (FCO) – Boston (BOS)
Wednesday, January 8
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 4A (Magnifica Class/Business Class)
I was really excited to try Alitalia’s new business class, not just because I haven’t yet flown Alitalia longhaul business class, but also because I haven’t flown the style of seat they have either. I’ve flown reverse herringbone, herringbone, staggered, angled, and forward facing business class seats, though this was my first time in this style of seat, which quickly grew on me.
Alitalia’s A330 business class consists of 28 seats spread across two cabins and seven rows. Via SeatGuru, here’s the seatmap:
Each row has four seats, though they’re staggered in such a way that you have lots of choices of the type of seat you want. There are two types of single seats by the window — those closer to the window and those closer to the aisle. In the center section there are seats separated from one another, as well as “honeymoon seats” whereby you’re more or less sitting next to one another.
Anyway, the cabin itself felt spacious, though a bit bland (though I guess that’s a blessing compared to the horrible green that Alitalia seems to use for everything else).
My friend was in seat 3C, which is the window seat closer to the aisle. While it’s a good seat for a solo traveler, I far preferred 4A, which is closest to the window and felt especially private.
As far as the honeymoon seats go, I have to say I don’t see myself ever selecting them, even if I were traveling with a significant other. They’re really close together, to the point that they almost feel like coach. Well, I guess the exception might be if I was actually on my honeymoon. But if I were on my honeymoon I’d probably prefer a double bed in Singapore Suites anyway. 😉
While the two window seats in row five had curtains around them (which presumably makes them crew rest seats), I never actually saw the pilots using them.
The great thing about this type of business class configuration is that there’s an ottoman and it’s not restrictive at all. Not only that, but the ottoman is close enough to the seat so that you can actually use it even when the seat is in the upright position.
One of my biggest frustrations with staggered business class products — like those offered by Austrian, Brussels, and Delta — is how little space there is for your feet in the “foot cubby.” With the way the ottoman is designed in this product there’s plenty of room for your feet.
There’s even a storage compartment below the ottoman for your shoes.
The tray table was located on the back of seat 3C, and was secured with a “clamp.”
The one thing to note is that it’s really easy to bump your knee into the circular thing that holds up the tray table. I hit my knee on it at least three times during the flight.
Waiting at my seat were headphones along with a packaged pillow and blanket.
While the blanket was presumably freshly laundered, it was full of lint.
For that matter, the cabin felt surprisingly worn for a fairly new business class product. There were lots of scratches everywhere, and even the leather showed a lot of wear and tear.
The seat had a power and USB port below the tray table next to the seatback pocket.
Also to the right of the seat were the entertainment and seat controls, which were intuitive.
Once settled in one of the flight attendants passed through the cabin with a cart containing Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits. Definitely one of the nicer business class kits I’ve received!
After that the flight attendant came around with pre-departure beverages. I selected both a glass of water and (red) orange juice.
Shortly thereafter the crew distributed the menu and wine list. They were both nicely done, and I found it kind of funny they even had a blank page for “tasting notes.”
While still on the ground I decided to go to the lav to change into pajamas. At around 3:25PM the cabin door closed, with only 10 of the 28 business class seats taken. Just about everyone in the cabin was American (and based on the accents I’d guess from Boston), which isn’t really surprising since no one in their right mind would’ve visited Boston this January given the weather.
We pushed back at 3:30PM shortly after a Saudi Arabian A319 that pushed back from the gate next to us.
As we taxied out the safety video played, which was surprisingly entertaining.
Our taxi to runway 25 took about 10 minutes, and once there we were number three for takeoff behind a Wizzair A320 and Alitalia A319.
The entertainment system had a nose camera, so I watched that during the taxi out and takeoff.
At around 3:45PM we taxied into position on runway 25, and after about a minute rocketed off into the west for our 9hr10min flight to Boston.
The views on the climb out were gorgeous, so I mostly just gazed out the window for the first 20 minutes of the flight.
At that point I browsed the entertainment selection, which was extensive.
While I watched it on a flight a couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but watch “The Heat” again. Freaking hilarious.
As soon as we leveled off the seatbelt sign was turned off and service began.
Hot towels were distributed first, which were moist and unscented.
Rather than serving drinks first, the crew immediately set the table. The setup was quite nice for business class.
The lunch menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
Alitalia gets huge props for their meal service. All the service was done by trolley, whereby you could see the choices and then decide what you want, with everything being plated at your seat. That’s similar to what Austrian and Turkish do, though they have DO & CO catering. I wish more airlines would do meal services like that.
I decided to try all the appetizers, which included steamed renette sliced apples with radish, pullet cake with sweet and sour pickled vegetables, and a spinach and herb omelet. All were really great.
Once appetizers were cleared the first course was served, which consisted of rice timbale with cheese, spinach, and purple potatoes, and/or pasta with tomatoes and basil. I asked for a little of both, which were plated at my seat. Absolutely delicious!
For the main course I selected the roast salted codfish with polenta in a creamy fish sauce, which was once again plated at my seat. I could also choose from the sides, which included spinach, carrots, and potato puree and celery dumplings. I also had a side salad with the main course. The food was simply top notch.
Lastly for dessert I selected the Duchess of Parma cake, which was simple but good. I had some coffee to accompany it.
The meal service was complete maybe two hours after takeoff, and I have to say my expectations were exceeded in every way. The food was better than I was expecting, and the service was quite good as well.
Full disclosure, I had really, really, really low expectations of the service on Alitalia based on everything I’ve heard. But it was actually fairly good. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t see the flight attendants once between meal services, but during the meal service they were friendly and smiling. While they weren’t proactive in terms of their service, they always got me anything I wanted in a pleasant manner. So the service was much better than I expected.
After lunch I gazed out the window for a bit again, as the sunset was gorgeous and seemingly never ending, as I swear it lasted for at least a couple of hours. The joys of flying west!
When the meal service was complete I decided to get a bit of rest. The crew placed bottled water along with a plastic cup at every seat.
I managed to sleep for a few hours, though since it was a daytime flight it was more “airplane sleep” than anything else. I woke up with about four hours to go to Boston, and headed to the galley between business class cabins to check out the snack selection. They had a small station set up with some soft drinks and crackers, though that was about it.
I decided to watch “The Joneses,” which was actually pretty decent and entertaining for an airplane movie, though I found the end utterly depressing for a self proclaimed comedy.
Roughly 75 minutes before landing the pre-arrival snack service menu.
The menu read as follows:
While the snack was simple it tasted fairly good.
About 25 minutes prior to arrival we began our steep descent. Shortly thereafter I got up to change back into my jeans, only to find they were missing. The flight attendant saw me looking around the overhead bins like crazy and asked “is anything wrong?” “Yes, I can’t find my pants.”
Not sure what exactly happened, but they were nowhere to be found. Fortunately I had another pair in my bag, or else it would’ve turned into a similar experience to my Singapore pajamas incident. My only explanation is that someone must have taken them. After all, I am a clothing trendsetter in Hong Kong…
We touched down in Boston at around 7PM (about 15 minutes behind schedule due to strong headwinds).
Our taxi to the gate took about five minutes. The immigration hall was extremely British (don’t get me wrong, that’s a great thing!), as both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had just landed. Fortunately thanks to Global Entry we were still through in no time.
Alitalia exceeded my expectations between their excellent hard product, top notch food, and better than expected service. They’re definitely one of the best options for redeeming Delta SkyMiles for transatlantic travel, and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again.