Tried & Tested

Lufthansa Italia A319-100 business class

27 Apr 2009 by Sara Turner

BACKGROUND Lufthansa Italia is a new airline serving eight European destinations plus three Italian cities, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the German carrier. It is the first time Lufthansa has created a completely new operation in a different country without purchasing a company or forming a merger. While Lufthansa Italia is part of Lufthansa, it will in time become an independent airline with Italian staff based near the Milan hub. The product combines German style and punctuality with a certain Italian flair. In practical terms this means Italian-speaking staff, Italian cuisine and newspapers, and a reliable service aimed at the corporate market. The main competitors on the route are BA, a Oneworld member, and Alitalia (Skyteam).

CHECK-IN I checked in online the night before and chose seat 2F – while the bulkhead row offers more legroom, I prefer the convenience of being able to put my bag under the seat in front. There is currently no mobile check-in facility but Lufthansa Italia is considering introducing it. I arrived at 0545 (the Malpensa Express train, which takes 40 minutes from Milan city centre, had been delayed by 15 minutes) for flight LH1870 at 0715. I used the dedicated fast bag-drop, where there was only one person in front of me, before heading to security. Lufthansa passengers can use a set of stairs that takes you straight from check-in to security. Here, premium passengers can use a dedicated X-ray machine – I was through in a few minutes.

THE LOUNGE I used the premium lounge, Sala Pergolesi, which was furnished with tired-looking olive green and turquoise leather sofas. This has now closed for refurbishment and an alternative temporary lounge is available until a new facility solely for Lufthansa passengers opens in the summer. There was a range of breakfast snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, and wifi for €9.90 for 24 hours, with no hourly option. There were two computers available but they didn’t seem to work. Two TVs were showing Italian and English-language news. Flights were not called but there was a screen showing departures, and at 0640 the receptionist told me to go to the gate.

BOARDING When I arrived at Gate B26, about a five-minute walk from the lounge, the flight was already boarding and I joined the back of the queue. Security staff were carrying out random searches of passengers’ hand baggage, but I was not chosen so went straight on to the bus along with all the economy passengers. There was a five-minute wait before we departed for the plane. Once on board I was offered a choice of magazines (Time and Newsweek, plus some Italian publications) and newspapers (Italian and English-language), as well as a refreshing hand wipe.

THE SEAT The A319-100 has two classes, business and economy. The plane has 23 rows with a curtain dividing the classes (row 13 doesn’t exist). In economy, the configuration is 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F) and in business it is 3-3 but sold as 2-2 (A-C, D-F) as the middle seat is kept free. The comfortable leather-covered seats are extended to be wider in business than economy and may have more legroom (business class seats have a pitch of 79-84cm, while economy has between 79cm and 81cm), but the recline is the same.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Row one is behind the bulkhead and row ten is by the emergency exit, so both offer good legroom. In both classes the front rows get served first.

THE FLIGHT We left on time at 0715. There was no in-flight entertainment, apart from Lufthansa’s magazine and a smaller Lufthansa Italia publication, but the flight lasted less than two hours so that was to be expected. Breakfast was perhaps not strictly Italian, but for a nation that survives on coffee and croissants in the morning it was quite substantial, with warm pain au chocolat, pain au raisin and a brown bread roll, plus a fruit platter with cream cheese, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a pot of apple purée with blueberries and almonds, an amaretti biscuit, jam, a bioactive yoghurt drink and made-on-board espressos. The flight attendant told me the coffee machine was the same as for Lufthansa’s new A380 and that it was crucial for the airline to provide fresh coffee in business class.

ARRIVAL The flight arrived at LHR on time at 0805. In theory, business class passengers can disembark first as they are at the front of the plane, although on this occasion the eager economy passengers crowded through, leaving me waiting. I used IRIS at security, with no queue. At the baggage hall it took ten minutes for the bags to start arriving. When they did, mine was not among the first on the luggage belt, despite it being labelled priority, but I didn’t have to wait too long. I was landside by 0825.

VERDICT A refreshing and reliable product on the Milan-London route. The service on board was excellent and the fresh espresso made the early morning flight that bit easier.

Fact file

CONFIGURATION 2-2 in business and 3-3 in economy

SEAT PITCH 31-33in/79-84cm

SEAT WIDTH 20in/50.5cm

RECLINE 20 degrees

PRICE Business class fares for a midweek return flight in May started from €1,072 online.

CONTACT lufthansaitalia.com

Sara Turner

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