Alitalia business class review: Much improvement after Etihad injection

It’s three months since Alitalia revealed a refreshed look for its livery, brand and interiors.

While the Italian carrier is still rolling out its new interiors across the fleet, my 11-hour direct journey from Rome Fiumicino to São Paulo on the Boeing 777 included the airline’s upgraded business class service.

Step into a Magnifica (business class) cabin now and you’ll be offered an aperitif, juice or water, along with Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits, menus and a pillow and blanket. The improved service comes in the same year Alitalia partnered with Etihad Airways, which not only injected a large sum of cash, but also a renewed vigour to the carrier’s service and product.


For me, the new eat-when-you-want dining was the standout feature. I could eat whenever and however I wanted with the crew taking my order before departure.

After take off, I was offered a drink and canapés; I then asked to eat as soon as possible to maximise sleep.

My table was prepared with a white linen tablecloth and each course delivered to my seat by tray, rather than trolley. I started with a light beef Bresaola and goats cheese mousse, followed by the airline’s signature pasta course, the potato ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach – it didn’t disappoint. I then opted for the braised chicken supreme filled with field mushrooms and topped with a borage crust and accompanied by a Parmesan gratin potato cake. To finish, I chose the cheese option over the traditional rich layered chocolate cake.

Before turning in for the night, I was offered a green tea.

The 777 offers the popular forward facing fully flat beds. While couples travelling together can pick one of the ‘honeymoon’ pairs, found in the middle of the cabin, solo travellers seeking privacy should book a window seat, set back from the aisle. Each seat offers generous space, and a decent bed length, along with a fairly powerful massage function and lumbar support.

Before donning my eye mask, I sampled the in-flight entertainment, slightly lacking compared to the entertainment systems found on Middle Eastern carriers and a little clunky to operate. However, I am told this is being addressed as the airline rolls out its upgrade.

With a thick blanket, big pillow and plenty of space to stretch out, sleep was easy and deep. I woke well-rested two hours before landing and was immediately offered a hot towel followed by a hearty egg breakfast of cheese omelette with sausage, grilled tomatoes and a selection of pastries and fresh fruits. To drink, it was fresh juices and Illy brand espresso coffee.

Q&A

Was it easy to work on board?

There are international power sockets (but no USB) at every seat, and both a side table and large main table, big enough to hold a drink and a laptop.

What about Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi isn’t available on-board yet, but is being rolled out.

What flight options are there to South America?

While there are direct flights to South America’s major cities with Etihad, Emirates and Qatar, Alitalia join one of a few one-stop carriers through Europe that offer fairly seamless daily connections, including Iberia, British Airways, KLM, Air France and Lufthansa. Alitalia and Etihad offer two connections from Abu Dhabi to Rome a day, and Alitalia then connects on daily to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

When will Alitalia’s new product operate on all of its routes?

The new airline interiors – complete with Poltrona Frau leather seats – are already installed in some A330s and will be rolled out throughout 2016.

What lounges does Alitalia use in Rome and Sao Paulo?

It uses its own lounges in Rome Fiumicino, available both airside and landside, which provide showers, buffet dining and a wide selection of drinks. In Sao Paulo, it utilises a shared lounge in Terminal 3, which offers cold drinks, and a good selection of cold and hot food, including salads, cold cut meats and warming soups.

How would you summarise your experience?

While I wasn’t on the newest A330 product, the original Magnifica experience is still competitive, offering the comfort, amenities, service and dining you would expect from any leading international carrier.

business@thenational.ae

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