Tried & Tested

Flight review: ITA Airways, A320 business class

22 Mar 2022 by Tom Otley
ITA Business-class-seat

Background

ITA Airways is the new name for what remains of the Alitalia network and fleet. If you book with ITA then part of the booking engine still says Alitalia on it, many of the aircraft still have the Alitalia livery, and many of the staff seem to be ex-Alitalia as well.

At the moment it is owned by the Italian government, but many other airlines have expressed an interest to buy a stake, including Air France/KLM.

ITA Airways has a new frequent flyer programme called Volare, which I had tried to register for but which has a technical fault meaning you need a US zip code in your address. As far as I know, this has not yet been fixed.

Boarding-gate

First impressions

I arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 2 at around 0530 for my 0725 departure on AZ201 to Rome Fiumicino. This was the first time I had visited in the airport since the dropping of the requirement to wear face masks.

Check in was at Zone D. The priority queue was closed, and remained so for passengers until an attendant sees proof that you had completed the Italian Passenger Locator Form.

I didn’t have bags to check but wanted to change my seat, and did so without problem.

I was also reminded that on board I would need to wear a FFP2 mask, an Italian government regulation until the at least the end of March.

The Lounge:

ITA doesn’t have its own lounge at Heathrow and there isn’t a Skyteam Lounge (the one in T4 closed during covid and isn’t reopening) so uses the Plaza Premium Lounge (signposted A3). It was quiet at this time (it opens at 0500) and had a small breakfast selection of hot and cold food.

Boarding:

Boarding was at Gate 24, with priority boarding for Sky Priority passengers and those in business class (Group 1).

I noticed as we boarded this A320 aircraft that the livery said ‘Alitalia operated by ITA Airways’, so perhaps the brand will make a reappearance at some point.

I’m sure some would welcome it back, though for reasons of EU rules, it might not be possible (the Italian government provided significant support to the airline and keeping the name would imply there had been ‘continuity’).

The seat:

The seating on board is the old Alitalia seating, so leather seating with generous (32-inch) leg room and the middle seat blocked off with a tray table which is narrower than the middle seat and so gives both the window seat and the aisle seat more room. The antimacassar have the Alitalia insignia and the front of the cabin also has the Alitalia sign. I was in seat 4A and with the middle seat blocked could lower the table on that seat so having both the table over the seat and the fold down table to store drinks and food on when working.

Alitalia-logo-business-class

The leg room means that unless the person in front of you reclines their seat there is enough room to work on a laptop, which is what I did for this morning flight, clearing up my inbox and also writing this review.

ITA leg-room

The food offering was fairly simple and would not have filled a hungry person, but luckily I had eaten in the Plaza Premium Lounge. It was a Actimel bio yoghurt, a ham and cheese croissant, another form of croissant and some fruit, along with a coffee and some water.

ITA-business-class-meal

I was impressed the efforts the flight attendants went to when the passenger in front of me said he had dropped his AirPods case on take-off. They went up and down the cabin crouching down looking for it, and seemed only mildly nonplussed when he admitted after 30 minutes that he’d found it in his jacket.

ITA-business-class-window-seat

Arrival

The flight was uneventful, apart from a brief period of turbulence, and we made good time to Rome arriving early at around 1010. There were no delays on disembarking, and we were quickly into the airport, where immigration caused no problems (stamp in the passport, of course) and with no luggage we were on our way into Rome

Alitalia-logo-ITA

Verdict

A good service. The days of these older seats may be numbered, but they are lovely and comfortable when you get to sit in them, and of course the leg room is very welcome.

As a post-script, on the return a few days later I flew economy.

Of course, the seat was the same, though the food offering for the afternoon flight in economy was some Italian snacks (Trallini) and a choice of fruit juice.

I was sitting in 6C for this return journey, with the curtain for business class in front of row 4. I was lucky enough to have a seat free next to me, although my near neighbour in the window seat (6A) took off his shoes and socks and then spent the flight rubbing his feet on the carpet, perhaps to exfoliate or just because he had an irritable skin condition. I was glad of the extra seat between us and also the requirement to wear an FFP2 mask. Service again, was friendly and efficient.

itaspa.com

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Business Traveller UK June 2022 edition
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