All good things come to an end and it is unfortunately time to leave sunny Lebanon back to probably gloomier, certainly colder Belgian skies. Come to think of it: my wife, daughter and I were all playing outdoor under the Sun and in more than 20°c just a few hours ago!
Leg 3: AZ0823 BEY-MXP 04:25 07:25 320 Y (Actuals: 04:25 07:00; Seat: 9A)
I always request a window seat as forward as possible in the cabin. This gives a competitive edge in the usual deplaning rat races. The aircraft stood ready for boarding by aerobridge at gate 18. The flight is almost full this morning and I’m lucky as 9B was one of the few empty seats. Got a copy of the FT
and one of the WSJ, the latter sucked. News for Alitalia was good though with signs of investment and short term relief for this loss making carrier.
The aircraft on our flight is I-BIKU and the crew is once again male only. What happened to all those beautiful Italian girls? Pillows had been prepared on all seats. Video security briefing (I tend not to pay attention to those when on a known aircraft type and if the crew is not interacting during the presentation), cabin lights off, and unusual take off apparently from the North-South runway heading south and making a right turn after reaching some altitude. The crew informed us that we would be served breakfast shortly.
I was a bit surprised as often, on these red-eye flights, we get to sleep soon after take off and are served breakfast prior to landing. As usual with Alitalia, breakfast was nothing exceptional. A thick Philadelphia sandwich accompanied by some poultry cold cut and cheese, a piece of apricot cake (I hate peach and apricot), an apricot labeled yogurt (at first I thought yerk but I didn’t actually taste like apricot), some fresh fruits (loads of sour apple, two pieces of kiwi and one piece of orange), and a bun of bread, no butter or jam. Took a glass of orange juice (fresh Santal again but not the red one this time) and one of sparkling water.
After the trays were removed I put the seat in the sleeping position and fell asleep for about 2 hours (this is as much as I slept from yesterday morning till this morning when I’m writing this part of the report), the seat didn’t feel as bad as that on the way in but it wasn’t really comfortable either.
The crew made an announcement that we would soon be landing in Milan and that the outside temperature was of -7°c! After a long and painful descend (that’s what my ears have to say) we landed smoothly (think I slept during landing) I was hoping we would dock to a gate but we got parked at a remote stand. Fortunately it wasn’t or didn’t feel as cold as announced.
Again entertainment was the drop down LCD
screens kind with a selection of flight tracking interrupted by comics and again although the seats are equipped with audio, no headphones were distributed on this flight. And the onboard magazine was still that of December.
Overall, I would rate this flight 6/10.
Second encounter with Milan's Malpensa airport
A normal experience again and a lot of queuing for all purposes plus no carry-on luggage carts like in Beirut. Brussels should also introduce these little handy carts. Most shops were still closed at 7 and the aircraft lineup was made of the variety of Alitalia types and of a more exotic Air Madagascar Boeing 767-300ER. Enjoyed Sun rise and the beautiful clear sky; well seated with a view on landings.
Leg 4: AZ0146 MXP-BRU 10:05 11:40 M82 Y (Actuals: 10:25 11:40; Seat: 12F)
Boarding by bus again! All of my Malpensa experience has been by bus expect when arriving from Brussels on the 1st leg. 1 out of 4, gives you an idea of my rating for that airport considering I think air bridges are a basic airport feature.
Again a mad dog and this time I got the reg: I-DATJ. Powerful yet silent take-off. Cloud free skies and a beautiful overfly over the Alps. An hour of flying towards Belgium over clouds and then again clear skies and a beautiful view of my country! I even spotted the Lion at the Gileppe dam! Coming to Brussels from the east, then overflying the airport north-south, our house in Evere, and the rest of the city including Manhattan and the Basilica all the way to Wavre's giant antenna. Then turning back and descending over very nice east of and east Brussels residential areas before overflying Ikea and landing on the shorter runway (can somebody confirm it is the 7?).
Onboard, nothing special. Nice seats in business again (6 rows) and a neater look (less yellow) around the cabin. Hot and cold drinks were served (I had orange juice and coffee) and a wrapped cake was given. No entertainment and one female attendant on this flight.
Overall, I would rate this flight 6/10.
This was a Skyteam award ticket and I frankly would have preferred to fly KLM, try CSA or even endure CDG
to fly Air France but Alitalia was the only option available on my dates.
I will fly Alitalia again as price is an important factor in my travel decisions (after safety and geopolitical considerations) but I would rate them below most experiences I've had on the route. That means below AF
, ME, OA
. I'm planning to write a special trip review about that, compiling 25 returns trips from Brussels to Beirut.
Cross-checking of Alitalia on the route will actually happen as we have made our Easter plans with them again. Another Skyteam free ticket to use and this time my family will tag along on paying tickets. Same flights but in April so stay tuned for another report on Alitalia on this particular path! A third try is due for Summer on an AMS
Overall ratings for this return trip:
- BRU: 8/10
- MXP: 3/10
- BEY: 8/10
I wish a Happy New Year to all and I hope you enjoyed this report!