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.
At least your home and our minds tend to forget nasty things.
I missed that earlier post where you flew this instead of LH F. Shame on you.
This to me sounds like a fairly typical Italian airport experience with any airline. It’s always chaos at every stage, lounges are not worth going to except maybe the *A lounge at FCO but in other places they are not worth the hassle. Find a seat at the gate area early on and sit tight because you’ll board from there eventually and you might as well be relatively comfortable while you wait and take along your own water.
I don’t understand why people stereotype Italian airports as chaotic. While Malpensa isn’t great, Linate is perfectly efficient, and Rome (FCO) is one of Europe’s best airports. I’d take Malpensa any day of the week over ATL or JFK…
I find Rome is also a mess and Linate is okay. I like Bologna and Pisa. Naples was also chaotic. I am no fan of JFK and do prefer MXP. Not so with ATL or most other major US airports. And I was ticked at how rude the immigration staff was at MXP…usually they are much better than the Americans.
What did the immigration staff do/say at MXP?
I want to point out the “Malpensa Airpot” typo, but based on the descriptions here, I am not sure that it actually is…
Malpensa airport is indeed a zoo. However, you have to take into consideration this is the peak of summer vacation in Europe so no matter what airport you are it will be a zoo anyway. While I love Italy (by far my favorite country in the world to travel on vacation) Italians are not the most polite people in the world and usually any rules are not followed.
Any naked FAs barge into your seat area?
(sorry, couldn’t resist)
I would expect nothing less in Italy. Typical…
“Third world” is an antiquated term. “Second world” doesn’t exist any more. “Emerging” or “developing” is more accurate. According to Wikipedia, the term is “outdated as it no longer represents the current political or economic state of the world.”
In addition, there are airports in what was the Third World (DOH, DEL, SIN) that are nicer than many US airports.
@Nate putting your infantile commentary to one side, if you think Singapore is a Third World Country, you need to travel (or at least read) more. Singapore has the third highest GDP per capita in the world, and is wealthier than any country in Europe or North America.
@Mak, the “third word” term originally referred to non-aligned countries, Singapore was non-aligned during the Cold War. It has nothing to do with GDP. You say I need to read more, but you are making the uneducated/ unread mistake of confusing “third world” with economic development, rather than Cold War alignment.
In fact you don’t even need to read the Wikipedia entry – which it appears you didn’t read before you post accusing me of being unread. You could just look at the map. If you look at the map, you will see that Singapore is green, the color denoting the third world. In contrast, Thailand is blue since it was part of the western alliance.
While you call my comments “infantile”, your comments are just wrong. I’m not sure if your use of the term “wealthiest” refers to a per capita but Luxembourg is wealthier on a per capita basis and the US is wealthier on an absolute basis.