Air Italy offers a phenomenal onboard soft product in business class. The food, drink, and especially the service onboard my 12.5 hour A330-200 flight from Milan to San Francisco left me smiling.
I walked out of the Sheraton, up a few escalators, and found myself in line at the Air Italy check-in desk. However, the printers were down leading to a huge backlog. Since I was not checking any bags, I left the line and was successfully able to check in on my mobile phone.
Even though it is hubbed in Milan Malpensa, Air Italy does not have a dedicated lounges. Its contract lounge was packed and vastly inferior to Alitalia’s lounge.
The gate area was also a mess, with flights to Beijing, San Francisco, and Miami all departing in a confined space around the same time. Boarding began late and rather than use jet bridges, Air Italy has remote stands which requires lengthy bus trips across the airport. I know that Air Italy is at the mercy of Milan MXP to an extent, but there are several steps it can take to improve the passenger experience.
Thus, when it finally came time to board I was fearful the flight might also be a disappointment. But my fear was totally misplaced.
Air Italy 937
Milan (MXP) – San Francisco (SFO)
Tuesday, July 09
Depart: 01:35 PM
Arrive: 05:10 PM
Duration: 12hr, 35min
Distance: 5,947 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Seat: 2K (Business Class)
Air Italy A330 Business Class Service
The highlight of this flight was the service from flight attendant Maurizio. Maurizio worked my side of the aisle and was one of the most professional, courteous, caring flight attendants I have ever encountered. He loved his job…and it showed. It always does. He addressed passengers by name and anticipated needs…glasses did not go empty and the flow of service was perfect.
In that sense, I cannot recall when I’ve had better service in business class. As usual, I managed to board first (by sprinting up the stairs) in order to capture pictures of the cabin. Maurizio welcomed me onboard, immediately offered me a drink, and showed me all the features of the seat. That really set the tone for the flight. Every passenger was provided a high level of personalized service and all the clients and friends I have booked on Air Italy have reported similar service.
Maurizio and his colleague Paolo were former Meridiana flight attendants, the predecessor to Air Italy before Qatar Airways invested in it and rebranded it Air Italy. For all who claim Air Italy is just a front for Qatar Airways to operate flights to the USA, consider the airline has all Italian flight attendants, most of whom worked for Meridiana for many years.
Air Italy A330 Business Class Seating
Business class features a 2-2-2 configuration with 24 so-called “angle-flat seats”. This is an ideal businesses class cabin for traveling with a companion since you can so easily talk to one another. On the flipside, if you are looking to maximize privacy, this is not the cabin for you.
There are power ports in the center console between seats, compartments for shoes and small personal items, and very generous legroom.
How can a flat seat be angled? Well, while you can clearly see in the picture below that the seat is not fully flat, when reclined and in the air you have the feel of a lie-flat bed due the slight up-angle of the aircraft during flight. If that’s difficult to conceptualize, just know that the bedding is excellent (plush blanket and pillow) and I slept very well for the majority of the flight.
Air Italy A330 Business Class Food + Drink
Let the feast began. While the highlight of the flight was the service, a close runner up was the food and beverage onboard. Air Italy recently introduced on-demand dining and new flatware, glasses, and crockery in business class. Meals were indeed available at any time during the flight, though most people (myself included) enjoyed a large meal after takeoff and snack before landing.
Before takeoff, a choice of Champagne, water, or mint lime juice was offered along with a cold towel.
After takeoff, apéritifs were offered along with mixed nuts. I enjoyed an Aperol Spritz and loved the pistachios in the nut mix.
Note the logo on the glassware. Qatar Airways certainly influenced the choice of flatware, dishes and glasses onboard.
Menus were distributed, revealing an extensive wine list and a wide menu of meal options to choose from.
Maurizio stopped by to take my order for the first meal service. I loved being able to mix and match whatever I wanted on the menu.
But before the first course arrive, the table was set for lunch. Using a cart with all the table setting, Maurizio and his colleagues carefully set the table for each passenger. The attention to detail rivaled my favorite flight attendant in Lufthansa First Class!
Simultaneously, I was offered a glass of wine, a delightful Sardinian red wine with hints of blackcurrant jam and liquorice.
Next came an amuse bouche of shrimp in a spicy sauce.
My first “real” course was carrot and fennel soup with white cream. It was perfect.
Next, I enjoyed a pasta course of saffron culurgiones, a traditional Sardinian stuffed pasta with potatoes and mint topped with a porcini mushroom cream sauce and cheese shavings.
I followed the pasta with a mixed salad including lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, olives, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese.
My meat course arrived, one of the only disappointments fo the meal. While my beef filet was beautifully presented, it was far too overcooked. Nevertheless, I loved the presentation and the dill helped to infuse each bite with more flavor.
By this time, I was very full…but the feast continued with a cheese plate.
suggested insisted I have some Assoluto with my cheese, a Sardinian dessert wine. It was too sweet for me.
Speaking of sweets, I concluded the meal with Sicilian cannolo. It was so delicious.
Sadly, the cappuccino was a huge disappointment. Serves me right for ordering one after lunch on an Italian airline…
After waking up from my nap, I wasn’t all that hungry but decided to have a snack prior to landing. I first requested pizza, but was told that there was none left. Instead, I had quiche with potatoes and basil, served with green salad. It was delicious. Once again, the table was very carefully set.
This time, the bread basket included breakfast breads, including a flaky croissant. I ordered a glass of orange juice and was pleased that it was freshly-squeezed. After my quiche, I enjoyed sliced fruit and ice cream with berries.
This time, I just stuck to coffee.
What a tremendous pair of meals on this flight. Even though the steak was a mistake, I greatly appreciated the depth of the menu and how fresh the ingredients were.
Air Italy A330 Business Class Amenity Kit + Pajamas
Comfortable pajamas and slippers were provided prior to takeoff. Note that medium and large are actually the same size and were a bit oversized on me.
The amenity kit was generic on the outside, but lined with the Air Italy logo on the inside. Inside the amenity kit was red socks and a red eyeshade, Acca Kappa lip stick and skin creme, ear plugs, and a dental kit.
Air Italy A330 Business Class IFE + Wi-Fi
I’d say the only area where there is room for improvement on Air Italy is the in-flight entertainment. Wi-Fi was not functional (12 hours is a long time to be disconnected) and the IFE library was limited…at least I had trouble finding movies that I was interested in but had not seen.
I ended up watching cartoons…The Jetsons and Family Guy…
Noise cancelling headphones were provided and the IFE “remote” also had a touch screen control.
Air Italy A330 Business Class Lavatory
The lavatory was clean and featured moist towelettes, but not real towels. In fact, there were not even paper towels, just tissues.
What a wonderful experience on Air Italy. It was refreshing to enjoy such a high level of service in business class and I very highly recommend Air Italy for your next trip to Italy. At least on my flight, Air Italy sets the standard for service in business class.