dc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2309 posts, RR: 5 Posted (3 years 4 months 1 week ago) and read 8422 times:
March 24th, AZ495, OTP-FCO, A319
March 25th, DL245, FCO-JFK, A330-300
March 25th, DL3021, JFK-ORD, CRJ-700
(the next two in a future report coming soon, I hope)
The idea of this trip was to return to my university for classes, after accompanying my grandma back to Romania after her first visit to the USA. On the way to Romania, I flew on DL to CDG and AF to OTP. I wanted to do a TR on those flights as well, but in the end I gave up on the idea, partly because AF assigned me automatically an aisle seat and I ended up not changing it (usually agents in America can't access the systems or the US airline—or they don't want to, frankly I don't know why).
I'll make a few comments here regarding the ORD-CDG-OTP voyage, though. Check-in at ORD was not impressive. The agent forgot to give us the boarding passes. Literally. Of course I spoke up. I had to ask for lounge access—not sure which lounge they used; the information was not forthcoming. There was no wheelchair offered for my grandma to the lounge. She can walk well, but not long distances, so I ordered one to take her to the gate, from the lounge.
DL offered me/us the worst meal. I usually eat extremely salty and spicy foods. However, the rice given was so salty even I couldn't eat it... and frankly I consider salty/spicy foods on a long flight as being a “screw you” to the passenger. The air is dry enough, and the drinks offered are generally not enough (unless you ask for more), but adding the intense saltiness means it's a health hazard.
Transfer in CDG is well-organized; it's a superb airport [intense sarcasm—do not take seriously]. Next time I'll transit at CDG I think I'll order a wheelchair for myself. Had it not been for my grandma's need for a wheelchair I think I'd've missed my flight. (of course, wheelchair pax get a shuttle to take them to the outbound flight's terminal)
There was a really nice male F/A on the CDG-OTP flight who took us to our seats, etc, and continued to be nice to us throughout the journey. Well done by him.
Now, back to Alitalia and Delta!
I've detailed the actual flown itinerary above. Now, let's see what I had booked, shall we?
March 25th, OTP-FCO-ATL-ORD. But Alitalia cancelled the early morning OTP-FCO flight on the 25th so I had to call their US toll-free number to seek a better alternative than their offer of spending 24 hours in Atlanta. I've already been to the Coca-Cola World once so I wasn't keen on spending that much time there. In the end I had to spend a night in Roma. Not bad, actually. The agent was helpful but took his time.
OK, so, on the 24th I got to OTP about three hours before my flight—better safe than sorry—it's hard to anticipate the traffic. I had a little time to spend before checking-in, so here are some pics, generally RO aircraft and the new terminal. 737s going to CAI, BEY later that night; the Skyteam logojet was going to BEY.
Anyway, back to the checking-in business. I couldn't do it online. Of course I couldn't, it was an Alitalia reservation. Their IT is so good, that I never go to their website without experiencing at least one bug (seriously, folks, it's that good!). In fact, booking the JFK-FCO-OTP segment on this journey (in June), I tried many times to get the late AZ flight on the new 332... but their website said no. Economy Plus or economy, same thing. Nope. So I'm stuck on the Delta flight hoping for a meal that's not too salty to eat (I have hope—see next trip report for details).
But yeah, AZ's online check-in NEVER worked for me. On the other hand, I could check-in on delta.com for FCO-JFK-ORD. So I did. Seats 11A and 07D respectively.
At OTP I got my window seat for the A319 flight to Rome. 08F was the assignment. The agent at check-in was very sorry she couldn't choose my seat for JFK-ORD and that it was 07D, “an aisle seat”. Of course, on a Comair CR7, it's a window seat, but if you told an European the New York to Chicago flight was operated by a Canadair, they wouldn't believe you.
Lounge access.... I had to ask for it because Alitalia's absolutely brilliant IT system misplaced my FF#. I'll probably have to send my boarding passes by post to claim these miles... although the ORD flight posted.
Security was quick at OTP, took 2 minutes or so. Of course, this was a Saturday, so there was no one flying on that day! OTP as empty as space—probably for the last time, now that the low-cost airlines have moved here. Of course, this is good and bad news—no more Baneasa (what a dump it was, ladies and gentlemen), but a more crowded Otopeni. In fact, for exactly one year, OTP operated below its capacity. Now it's above its capacity yet again. Great.
The TAROM lounge was still empty, as it was the last time I went there as well. Pictures:
Not much later, the time came to go to the gate. Gate 13 it was today. Superstitious? Hey, at least there's no gate 17, so the Italians can't be too mad at us for giving them a bad gate—13 isn't as bad as 17, is it? Although I believe row 13 was missing as well in the A319, EI-IMN:
Boarding soon commenced. I used the Elite Plus lane, although I must look too young to belong, as they didn't want me to board there at first. Then the agent had to manually introduce my FF# into the system—still doesn't look like it worked. I'm getting pissed off at AZ's system and I'll use expedia to book my AZ tickets from now on (it sold me what AZ's website didn't want to, last time I bought an AZ ticket—long live expedia... and to think I didn't want to use it). At least it seems to accept Flying Blue.
Load was, not surprisingly, very light today, somewhere around 50 passengers. Flying time was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Here are views from 08F:
No, the PTVs weren't turned on.
After a fair amount of time in which nothing happened, the AZ crew came by with a few drink options and food. Sweet or salty? Actually, “[something] or biscotti?” Sweet for me, thanks, I'm thirsty enough as it is:
Succo di albicocca, prego... Non c'e molto a dire. Il servizio rapido e impersonale.
A.net loves lavatory pics, right?
Self-portrait, with a camera for a face.
Soon we were on our descent. I was very tired, as I hadn't felt well the past few days and didn't sleep enough for a vacation! We got into FCO, landing on runway 16R. We then arrived at the G-gates 5 minutes later.
I was first one off to immigration control. 2 seconds later I was in Italy. 20 minutes later I got through customs (no bags, but such a long walk). I got my ticket to Termini for the express train (funny story, but only if you ask). 40 minutes later, I was in Termini, which was very much alive on a Saturday night. There seemed to be a few unsavory characters around but I had no problems with anyone. Soon I got to the guest house and cried myself to sleep.
Next morning at 7 I woke up, bought tickets back to Fiumicino Aeroporto, and took a stroll. Here're some pictures of Roma, pretty empty on a sleepy Sunday morning.
Can anyone identify the bird in the picture?
It's time to grade the Alitalia flight, isn't it? So it has come to this.
I had problems on the AZ website, as almost always. Couldn't book on my preferred flight from JFK to FCO on the return. Alitalia apparently lost my frequent flyer number—although DL had it, so I'm not sure what screw-up AZ IT invented.
Since AZ on-line check-in never works for me, it receives a zero. In person check-in was fair, but the agent did not give a lounge invitation even if I gave her my FB card. Otherwise, very professional and nice. 8. Averaged out, this gets a 4 for check-in.
Organized, surprisingly. However, the agent(s) did not want to board me at first, until I told them I had FB gold. Again, AZ's system lowers their grade!
Perfectly average, comfortable enough for a 2-hr flight, nothing special, no real deficiencies.
Again, perfectly average. Nothing much to say, really.
No magazine in the seatback, no IFE. A few flight deck announcements and F/A announcements in quite poor English, but understandable, I guess.
Average. Nothing to go above and beyond. Didn't seem to want to be there at all.
A number of choices for drinks, and even got a choice between sweet and salty. Oh, how standards have fallen...
Left on-time and arrived early. Bravo, Alitalia!
Wasn't that quick, but can't complain. No real issues and we even got a jetway.
RO's lounge at OTP is an average lounge but it doesn't seem to ever be crowded, and that's a big plus.
Would I recommend Alitalia? They offer a lot of miles compared to AF/KL flights on Flying Blue, so I would recommend them if you have a Skyteam frequent flyer card and need miles. They might offer good value in that case. But even then, their ridiculously poor IT system can cause a lot of hassles. I would and will fly them again, but before advising you to choose AZ, I'd tell you to look and see if KL offers decent fares/times to where you're going.
dc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2309 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 7704 times:
Quoting sultanils (Reply 1): Nice short report on your AZ flight. I very much liked the pics of OTP which is not so much featured here: it looks clean and modern. I didn%u2019t know BBU is no more? Any idea why?
Thanks for reading!
BBU closed on March 25th... I've heard a number of stories, ranging from NIMBY problems, as BBU was practically in the city, to influential people not wanting to share the space with LCC passengers, to (the most likely one IMO) making room for selling the airport's prime real estate location, in a few years.
OTP looks pretty good, yes. I'm reading a Romanian forum that says some of the problems experienced by Baneasa are now moving to OTP. I don't know exactly what they mean. But it seems that the new wing of the Departures terminal, opening in July, will be dedicated to LCCs, which I foresee will minimize the crowding problems experienced now.
Quoting sultanils (Reply 1): For me it is good news, since I can combine easily some carriers without having to make a tight transfer BBU/OTP or vv.
Yes, that's a positive, although I'm not sure how many people are in your situation. I haven't heard of many people transferring from BBU to OTP or vice versa. I wouldn't have risked it on a weekday myself.
reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1530 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 7377 times:
Thanks for sharing. I had 4 intra-european flights with AZ last weekend. And yes, the PTV was never turned on (although they advertise a special IFE on 4 channels on A320s on european flights in their inflight magazine).
In my opinion AZ was average. Not bad, but on time, modern aircrafts, comfy seats and good legroom. Aircraft interior a little bit to generic and grey in my opinion. Staff quite old and seeming unmotivated. Twice in my 4 flights they didn't even asked me sweet or salty but just gave me the first thing available!
KL did better, and AF did far better on that weekend (had some flights with them as well).
By they way, you should have asked if they could pay you the hotel in Rome since they messed up the flights. I would hand in my receipts...
dc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2309 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 7308 times:
Quoting globalflyer (Reply 3): Hi Alex. This was a great TR. RO looks great in the SkyTeam livery. I really like the RO lounge at OTP as well. Nice pictures of Roma. Cheers, Will
Hi Will, thanks for reading!
Quoting reifel (Reply 4): Thanks for sharing. I had 4 intra-european flights with AZ last weekend. And yes, the PTV was never turned on (although they advertise a special IFE on 4 channels on A320s on european flights in their inflight magazine).
Of the 3 or 4 Airbus 320 series flights with AZ I remember right now, the IFE was turned on once, I think... Not impressive. It's not like you need PTVs on such a short flight, but if they're there, you might as well use them, I think!
Quoting reifel (Reply 4): In my opinion AZ was average. Not bad, but on time, modern aircrafts, comfy seats and good legroom. Aircraft interior a little bit to generic and grey in my opinion. Staff quite old and seeming unmotivated. Twice in my 4 flights they didn't even asked me sweet or salty but just gave me the first thing available!
Yes, for me too, they were average... As you can see, I used that exact word a few times
EI-INM seems to be just about 9 months old, pretty new by anyone's standards.
Quoting reifel (Reply 4): KL did better, and AF did far better on that weekend (had some flights with them as well).
Yes, KL is my favorite European airline. Will test LH, OS and SK this summer to see if they're on the same level.
AF... I have mixed feelings. I'd fly them more often if not for CDG.
Quoting reifel (Reply 4): By they way, you should have asked if they could pay you the hotel in Rome since they messed up the flights. I would hand in my receipts...
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6): Sure, you can rely on Expedia. I've never had any problems with them.
That's good to hear. I generally prefer to buy tickets off of the airline's website, but in some cases that proves to be impossible!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6): What a waste - and I'm wondering why they kept installing these small old-style PTVs on newer planes.
I have no idea. If I'm not mistaken (I may well be), AirOne had this system, whereas AZ had drop-down monitors, prior to the merger. I guess the new planes are getting PTVs, though.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6): I guess one should never expect too much on AZ. At least they served a delicious dinner on my one and only AZ long-haul flight some years ago (JFK-FCO).
You know, I can't complain too much about Alitalia. They're a standard airline, on par with most others in Europe. That said, they probably won't have too many people saying Alitalia is their favorite airline.