TRIP REPORT: Alitalia, Amsterdam - Rome


Wiitten by Chris Matteo

Flying with Alitalia only about once a year, I am always interested to see what, if anything, has changed as they continue to struggle financially. Despite their financial situation, I know that Alitalia's staff recently received new designer uniforms, which I am have a hard time grasping given that the airline is broke.

Regardless, a few weeks ago I flew with Alitalia in Business Class from Amsterdam to Rome.

Route: AMS-FCO
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ109
Registration: EI-IXZ
Distance: 807 miles
ADT: 18:07
AAT: 19:50
Aircraft: A321
Seat: 4C

Boarding, as per usual at Schiphol, is what I like to call ''managed chaos''. I say this because the gate agents do a relatively good job trying to separate premium passengers from economy passengers. However, due to the small gate areas at AMS and lack of boarding zones as in North America, passengers tend to congregate in large amounts around the 3 boarding lanes. This makes it quite difficult if you are a premium passenger to weave your way through the crowd to the Business Class/SkyTeam Elite (Plus) boarding lane.

Our flight was a bit delayed, and we were given no indication of why this was other than the ''late arrival of the aircraft from Rome,'' which really does not answer the question entirely.

I made my way through the crowd of people to the Business Class boarding lane. There was an agent at the front of the line checking to ensure that passengers were queuing in the correct lane which I really appreciated. I made my way down the jet bridge and onto the aircraft.

As I walked into the cabin, the purser did not say hello or greet a single passenger. She was busy doing something in the galley but nothing that appeared particularly pressing or necessary. I stowed my bag and took my aisle seat in the last row of Business Class. The flight was nearly full with Business Class being 100% occupied today.

To give Alitalia credit, the seats are quite nice. They have decent pitch, are relatively wide, and pretty comfortable. The seats are all leather and had nice Italian touches to them. Also, the middle seat is blocked in Alitalia Business Class. Overall, the cabin seemed relatively fresh and in decent condition.

The A321 is a very long aircraft and takes quite a long time to board. As annoying as it is sometimes, I do often miss the North American boarding zones. This way, there is at least some sort of structure to boarding the aircraft in a timely fashion. Without the zones, I feel like the boarding process drags out much too long.

Once boarding was completed, we pushed back and began our 20-25 minute taxi to the Polderbaan, Amsterdam's notorious remote runway.

After takeoff, one of the crew members came to close the curtain dividing Business Class from Economy. It is a bit awkward if you are in the last row of Business Class as the curtain rests on the top part of your seat.

The crew on this flight, as often on all of my Alitalia flights, was incredibly grouchy and uninterested. I never saw the purser smile, let alone interact with anyone in a friendly manner.

On this flight, there were four rows of Business Class with a total of 16 passengers. The entire meal service took nearly 1.5 hours (on a 2 hour flight), and I was not served until roughly one hour into the flight. This is truly absurd, especially given the fact that there was no choice of meal nor beverage cart. The purser, much to her dismay, served each individual tray to each passenger in the cabin. Then, she would come back two more times to each person with the basket of bread and their requested drink. No menus were distributed nor was an explanation of the meals/beverages provided. Whilst I am all for personal attention and not utilizing the trolleys to serve, the way this purser conducted the operation seemed incredibly inefficient.

There was a teenager with special needs sitting in one of the seats in the second row, and I was shocked with how the purser treated him. He obviously did not speak Italian nor understand why she was giving him a tray with food on it. She attempted to communicate with him but he still did not understand. Then, she let out a deep sigh and made a semi-eye roll. This was quite disappointing to see.

When she finally reached my row, she gave me a tray with no explanation of the meal. As I previously mentioned, she then came back twice, once with a bread basket and another time with my glass of red wine. I was also surprised that Alitalia did not offer a choice of wine, and only had to my knowledge, one of each types of wine. This seems a bit unusual for Business Class on a national carrier of a country that prides itself on its wine.

The meal tasted fine but was unmemorable. What really struck me was the portion size; almost comically small, and left me even more hungry once I finished. No refills were offered, and the purser immediately started to come by each seat with a carafe of coffee (evidently just strong instant nescafe coffee).

By the time the service finally finished, we were already descending into Rome. After a smooth landing, we taxied to a remote parking location which I found really frustrating as nearly all of the jet bridges in the terminal were vacant. We were then crammed into two buses and driven 5 minutes to the main terminal area.

Overall, my expectations were pretty much met on this flight. I should add that my expectations were low.

Alitalia did a pretty lackluster job, and what struck me most was how uninterested, and relatively unfriendly, all Alitalia crews seem to be these days. I would much rather fly KLM on this route simply because the service is much friendlier and professional.

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  1. Thanks for comrehensive report. Sorry to hear about not so good experience onboard. I fly often with Alitalia and usually it is quite good. Shocking behaviour and attitude towards the teen with disabilities! Really sorry to learn that.

  2. Anonymous12:14

    Out of curiosity, how much did they charge for the business class fare? I think it also an important factor when judging the quality of a certain product- was there value for money?

    Their business class out of Belgrade is not cheap so it's a rip off.

  3. Thanks for the great report!

    I share your feelings on Polderbaan. My least favorite runway of all.

    And completely agree that EU Airports should introduce zone boarding as in America ASAP!

    1. Anonymous12:51

      Zone boarding is what?
      Like boarding is first done for rows 16-30, than for 1-15?
      It happens around Europe too, I know that even in Belgrade they are doing it sometimes.

    2. Anonymous13:37

      No, its when they put you in different lines like cattle waiting to be slaughtered. Pretty horrible experience.

    3. Anonymous15:04

      And different lines are based on what? seat row, fare type, random?

    4. Anonymous16:52

      Amerika? No thanks. I prefer SE Asia or Latin America where there are still nice people and will feel welcomed. Much more to see, eat and drink. Gun mentality.
      As for AZ, I am shocked with the high level for a short, European route. It's sad not to see traditional, Italian food just like Croatia Airlines does.

  4. Anonymous18:54

    Your unintentional selfie is visible on the upper part of the tablet photo. Furman alumni, nice.

  5. Anonymous23:40

    Horrible airline and unpleasant crew on every single flight!


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