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AZ AMS-FCO: Much Better Than Expected (Pics!)  
User currently offlineMarambio From UK - Scotland, joined Oct 2004, 1162 posts, RR: 25
Posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4393 times:

The Dutch sun had already risen when my alarm clock rung at 5:45 in the morning. After whispering some insults, which are not worth repeating here, I slowly woke up. I thought about starting by finishing my packing, but decided to first have a shower.

After quickly putting all my stuff into my suitcase, I went downstairs to have some breakfast. My mom caught me at the kitchen and said “Easy you, Marcos – we’ll grab a bite at the airport”. I was actually feeling hungry, but I thought I’d better not start discussing with my mother.

At around 7:30 the taxi arrived. I bided my last farewell to The Hague and in no time we entered A4 motorway, following all signs to Amsterdam. Meanwhile, on the radio they were announcing the death toll of Al-Qaida’s last attack in Sharm al-Sheich. Ben Laden and his friends certainly deserve to burn in hell for ever.

Once in front of the airport, we paid the taxi driver, took our luggage and made our way to Departures 1, where Alitalia check-in is located. Whilst waiting for a moment until one of the two agents was free, I paid a look to our ticket, printed in KLM paper – “Total Price: EUR 25.95”. You gotta love redeeming miles for flights. We wouldn’t have got this price with any other airline at this time of the year, not even with Ryanair.

Check-in was done by KLM ground staff, no surprise since the flight was codeshared with them. The girl, dressing their typical light-blue dress, was quite nice. She printed our green boarding passes and sent our luggage to Rome. “Your Flying Dutchman – err, Flying Blue numbers are already in the computer”, she said. I smiled, both because she misnamed the programme’s name and because we were not supposed to get any miles on this reward flight.

Security was done in a breeze, which is something really unusual at Schiphol. Once on the airside we went upstairs to KLM’s Crown Lounge. The old lady at the entrance desk asked for our boarding passes and Flying Blue cards. We gave her my mom’s Platinum Elite card and my dad’s Gold Elite card. When she asked to see mine, I replied “I’m their guest”. She smiled and let us in.

Even though the lounge had certainly been just refurbished, there was something I didn’t like about it. I believe it was its huge size which bothered me, since I am used to Lufthansa’s Senator Lounges, which are very small in comparison. Besides, all furniture and walls were white and blue, which are not the cosiest colours on Earth. Overall I found the ambiance to be somewhat cold.

Anyway, finally it was breakfast time. We settled in one table, and I picked a coffee, an orange juice, some croissants and a copy of Libération, a French left-wing newspaper. After some 45 minutes, my father said “¿Vamos?”, a multiuse Spanish word which, in this case, meant something like “Shall we go?”. My mom and I agreed, and we left the lounge. No “good bye” or “have a nice flight” from the lady at the desk, in contrary to Lufthansa employees, who always bid you farewell when leaving the room. I know that is not really necessary, but it is a small touch I always like.

We went downstairs and started our long walk to B-pier, from where our flight would be boarding in some minutes. We passed by some Martinair planes, being prepared for their flights to warmer and sunnier destinations across the whole world.
http://i.pbase.com/v3/87/584587/1/47634266.IM000303.JPG

The Airbus A319 that would later take us to Rome was already parked at position B12. It was registered I-BIMA and baptized “Isola d’Elba” (“Elba Island”). For those of you who don’t know it, Napoléon Bonaparte spent some years imprisoned in Elba, before escaping and reaching France. Later, he would become Emperor, go to war versus almost every single European nation, and be imprisoned again, this time in Saint Helena island, in the middle of the Southern Atlantic, in order to avoid escaping again. Indeed Napoléon was not able to escape, and he died in Saint Helena - some say because of natural disease, some because he was poisoned by the Britons. No matter which is the truth, his life certainly was interesting.

http://i.pbase.com/v3/87/584587/1/47634263.IM000308.JPG

Back to topic now. Pre-boarding was announced for Alitalia flight AZ 107 to Rome Fiumicino. I convinced my parents to wait outside for a while, since I badly hate pre-boarding. I am not the type of person who enjoys being stuck between four small walls with other one hundred fellow passengers for a considerable amount of time. I know the plane is going to wait for me anyway, so why should I hurry? We boarded only when the gates’ doors were opened. Before entering the plane, I took a copy of Rome’s newspaper “La Repubblica”.

“Isola d’Elba” was delivered to Alitalia on June 2002 and still looks new. Interior is full of green and white, basically the two colours one would expect from Italy’s flag carrier. Economy Class was packed, without a single empty seat. On the other hand, only two passengers were flying on “Prima Classe”.



I have always found Alitalia’s names to be interesting – “Prima Classe” for their Business Class, although it literally means “First Class”; “Classe Magnifica” (“Magnificent Class”) for their First Class. And my all-time favourites, “Ulisse” (“Ulysses”) and “Freccia Alata” (“Winged Arrow”) for the two higher levels of “Mille Miglia” (“Thousand Miles”) frequent traveller programme. All names look very nice and clever when compared to some other airlines’.

Security announcements were played on the LCD screens in Italian and English. The Italian version also included sign language, which I thought was really great for deaf passengers. It is the only time I have seen it, and wish other airlines would copy it.

As for our route, we flew over the Netherlands, western Germany, Austria, the Alps, Lombardy, Tuscany and finally Lazio, and approached Fiumicino from the Mediterranean.

Service consisted of a box, again green and white, called “Alisnack – with the compliments of Alitalia”. It consisted on a strawberry yoghurt, a piece of cake and a sort of ham sandwich, what in Argentina (and perhaps in Italy, too?) we call “traviata”. It also included a refreshment towel. The food wasn’t great, and the cake was dry, but it was a lot more than what you get with other so-called “full-frills” European airlines on flights this length – learn from the Italians, Lufthansa!
http://i.pbase.com/v3/87/584587/1/47634316.IM000312.JPG

http://i.pbase.com/v3/87/584587/2/47634303.IM000309.jpg

On the LCD screens we were showed some old cartoons during the whole flight. Although I did not watch them, some people apparently liked them, as they laughed every once in a while. The atmosphere was relaxed and happy – everyone was going to Italy on holiday.

Much to my surprise, there was no Alitalia in-flight magazine on any seat pocket. There only were the safety card, an airsicknessbag and a small, orange brochure of “Griffair”, their duty-free shop. The flight attendants even passed once selling “duty-free” goods, which I found to be odd – on flights between the EU, like this one, all goods are taxed.

Our crew consisted on three flight attendants, two males and one female. The two males were really nice and cheerful, yet the old lady was really annoying. When I took the above-posted cabin picture, she came and told me, with a strong Italian accent “It is forbidden to take pictures onboard!” One of the guys came after, smiling, and said “Don’t pay attention to her”. I had a good laugh, because this scene could have perfectly taken place at any Aerolíneas Argentinas flight. Italians are our brothers, there’s no doubt about it.

The rest of the flight was uneventful, including some breathtaking views of the Alps. Landing at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino was good, and we parked at an outside position, from where we were bussed to the terminal.

Baggage claim took ages, and the airport was packed, with lots of flights arriving from everywhere in Europe and beyond. While waiting for our luggage, we were all smelled by an anti-drugs dog of the “Guardia di Finanza”, Italy’s customs authority.

Fiumicino was so full of people, it took almost two hours to reach Hertz’s desk and pick up our new Fiat Punto, which we had rented for a week.

Now, it’s time for the verdict. It was my first time flying Alitalia and would try them again without hesitation. The aircraft was new, service was alright and flight attendants were…well, let’s put it this way, they were very Italian, if you get what I mean. Now that my Flying Blue account is left with some 300 miles, I may join Mille Miglia, which looks more generous than other Sky Team programmes.

This was part 2 of my series of trip reports from South America to Europe and back. You may find part 1 here: LH EZE-FRA-AMS: The Good Ol' Days Are Gone (Pics!) (by Marambio Aug 7 2005 in Trip Reports)

I hope you enjoyed your reading. As usual, bear in mind English is not my mother tongue, so excuse me for any kind of mistakes I may have had. Comments, criticism and questions are, of course, more than welcome.

Saludos,
Marambio


Aerolíneas Argentinas - La Argentina que levanta vuelo
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineStjuard From Austria, joined Aug 2005, 61 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4292 times:

Nice! I love the design of "Alisnack" box  Wink Well, Italian design, what more can I say?  Big grin

Thanx for sharing nice report and pics  bigthumbsup 



Slides armed, crosscheck done.
User currently offlineAlitalia744 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 4764 posts, RR: 44
Reply 2, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4250 times:

Glad you enjoyed Alitalia and great trip report.

AZ is a great airline if you understand how to love it. It will never be Singapore, nor will it be British Airways. But it will always be Alitalia.

In all my trips on Alitalia (50+), I have yet to have a bad experience. Yes I've seen some pretty unprofessional behavior toward other passengers, but I've always been treated great.

They're Italian after all!



Some see lines, others see between the lines.
User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 49
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4038 times:

Marcos: great trip report! I also had excellent experience with AZ in the past on this route. I used to fly AMS-FCO at least twice a month with AZ and KL. Overall AZ was consistently better if compared to KL, especially on the item onboard food; but KL was also consistently better on punctuality!  Wink

AZ also uses the MD-80 on AMS-FCO (AZ has three daily) and I find them more comfotable than the new A319.

Out of curiosity: AZ's Director for The Netherlands, Mr Antonio Sgro, was previously AZ Director for Brazil based in Sao Paulo.

Quoting Marambio (Thread starter):
I may join Mille Miglia, which looks more generous than other Sky Team programmes.

Please be explain.

Quoting Marambio (Thread starter):
KLM’s Crown Lounge...Overall I found the ambiance to be somewhat cold.

...or Dutch...No, now seriously, I like the new Crown Lounge. I think is functional and has the right neutral atmosphere...

Rgs,
Hardi

PS: can I ask which holiday destination/beach did you go in Italy?


User currently offlineZRHnerd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4006 times:

very interesting and detailed report.Thanks for sharing it with us and dont worry, your English is more than fine  Wink

User currently offlineSemsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3990 times:

>>Our crew consisted on three flight attendants, two males and one female. The two males were really nice and cheerful<<

Wow, I have never met a "cheerful" Alitalia crew member. I believe if I am correct that Marco who runs the airlinemeals.net web site had a lot of problems taking pictures on an Alitalia flight.

Your English is great. Enjoyed reading your report.


User currently offlineBA757 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2832 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3810 times:

Quoting Alitalia744 (Reply 2):
In all my trips on Alitalia (50+), I have yet to have a bad experience. Yes I've seen some pretty unprofessional behavior toward other passengers, but I've always been treated great.

Lucky you!

They are a good airline though, I couldn't moan to much about them. Just delays and cancellations (strikes...very Italian!)

Adam


User currently offlineIDISA From Italy, joined Jun 2004, 262 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3712 times:

Great Report! I'm very happy you enjoyed flying with AZ and hope you had good times staying in Italy.
I have a colleague of mine, also a great friend, which is from Buenos Aires and works for Alitalia...

...well, exactly as I work for our flag-carrier.  Smile

Ciao
IDISA


User currently offlineAlitalia744 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 4764 posts, RR: 44
Reply 8, posted (9 years 4 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3605 times:

IDISA,

Glad to hear you work for AZ! I fly EWR/JFK-FCO/MXP at least twice a year and have never had a bad experience aboard Alitalia. I love the new 777s!

And still love hearing the recorded announcement on the old MD's...

"Benvenuti abordo il Super 80 Alitalia"
 Wink



Some see lines, others see between the lines.
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