I’m safely back home after a lovely trip around the world. My final new flight experience, on Air Italy, was an interesting one.
I’ll use this post to paint the juxtaposition between Air Italy on the ground and Air Italy on the air, focusing today on the ground. To put it in most simple terms, it is like night and day.
The whole Air Italy ground game in Milan Malpensa needs some serious work. I stayed overnight at the Sheraton again and walked into the terminal about two hours before departure. The lines were horrifically long. An agent told me the system that prints baggage tags was broken, bringing the check-in process to stand-still.
I’ve been doing in-person check-ins this trip to try to survey the entire customer experience, but thankfully was not checking any bags and simply checked in for the flight on my mobile phone and instantly downloaded my boarding pass.
Forsaking one of my favorite Lufthansa lounges since I was not flying Star Alliance today, I followed the signs toward my gate, went through security and passport control (lines were horrific), and walked over to my gate. The whole process had drained an hour and boarding was scheduled to commence one hour before takeoff…as in immediately.
As I reached the gate, I found a “pit” with passengers for Air Italy’s flights to Miami and San Francisco lined up as well as passengers for an Air China flight to Beijing. All in one area. The whole area smelled like an ashtray (making me very happy I was not flying Air China…) and it truly felt worse than many third-world airports. No chairs or restrooms…
I approached a gate agent and asked if boarding would indeed start now and she said, “No. Maybe in 15 minutes. Or 30. We’ll see.”
So I proceeded to the Sala Pergolesi . There, I was firmly told that Air Italy does not use the lounge next to their gate, but the Sala Monteverdi lounge which was a 10-minute walk away…and would require going through passport control since it was in the Schengen Area.
Thankfully (or not), this was a Priority Pass lounge as well, so I used that card to gain access. The lounge was packed, coffee dispensed by a sorry excuse for a machine, and I ended up staying just for a few minutes. This whole Malpensa Airport is such a dump.
Finally, about 30 minutes after posted boarding time, boarding actually began. Once again, it was a free-for-all to board a bus that would take us to a remote stand. The five-minute trip on the bus took us to a remote part of the airport where we then had to board a rather steep stairwell to the aircraft.
What the heck had I gotten myself into for 93K British Airways Avios when I could have flown Lufthansa First Class for 70K? Just how far am I willing to go in my quest on Live and Let’s Fly to offer a wide range of business and first class reviews?
Thankfully, the onboard experience was tremendous…a total change from the ground experience. I’ll share about that in my next post.