Welcome aboard my trip report! CCS-MXP on AZ, Magnifica/Business Class.
As some of you might know, I like to write my reports while I’m on the flight, so I can provide all the details possible and make you able to live my experience as well as I have.
So, right now I’m seating on a magnificent Alitalia Boeing 767-300ER on a flight from my hometown Caracas to my beloved country (family) Italy. The main reason for this trip is the Holly Week vacation and a mission I have to complete: visit some universities in the old continent (In Pamplona, Universidad de Navarra).
As a result, I have a pretty nice schedule: CCS-MXP-BIO-MXP-FCO-CCS.
From these legs, I will write a report for the CCS-MXP and MXP-BIO-MXP, as both trips will be on Business Class.
Day 1: March 28th, 2007. CCS-MXP.
Today is the day I have been waiting for at least three months. I’d like to say that Italy is the country of my heart. My family is from there and I simply love the place. Actually, I had the opportunity to live near there for a whole year (two years ago) in Lugano, Switzerland. This place is really close to Italy, so I had the opportunity to travel a lot inside the country and know a lot more of it. What a paradise.
Ok, to the point. This vacation is going to be very interesting. I am traveling on my own just because I have to visit a university in Pamplona, Spain. My parents will fly to Italy the next day (on the 29th, CCS-MXP-FCO), so I can meet them eventually. So, right now I’m flying to MXP to then, connect to BIO and go to Pamplona the next day with my very best friend, who lives in Bilbao.
So, today I had to go to classes and attend to an Economics test, which I probably flunked since my mind was on the trip! After that, I went home and got all the stuff needed. Then, I started my journey to the airport with a driver I’ve known for at least 11 years. This guy has gotten a bit older so he’s been driving pretty slowly lately. As a result, I got a bit stressed during my car trip to the airport.
For those of you that are unaware of the situation that has been going on in Caracas for the last few years, I’ll make a short summary so you get updated: the main bridge that connects Caracas and La Guaira (the place where CCS is) collapsed, and since then, a new one has been on construction. As a result, an alternate way was created to go through and this develops huge traffic formations and represents potential delays on many travelers. As a result, I left home at 12.50 to prevent a further situation.
Caracas is known for its traffic. Today wasn’t the exception. I got to the alternate way at 13.30, which is quite something for a day at noon.
Traffic was like hell, even though not as bad as it usually is. I stayed in the queue for 36 minutes and by 14.06 I was out of it, happily.
Here are some shots of the alternate way and the bridge under construction.
Right after that, we continued down the highway and arrived at the airport by 14.25; something like two hours and twenty minutes before my flight’s departure.
The airport was quite OK with the traffic. I got to the unload area without any problems, got my bags, said goodbye and went to the AZ area. This is the exciting part! Originally, I was flying with my parents. They always fly in first class as they have a new baby (my brother, of course!) and they want to be more comfortable. The thing is that, as I am flying alone, I didn’t know where I would fly. As a result, I ask the person in the beginning of the line where should I go through. He didn’t know, so he went to the desk and asked. I have never been so happy; my check-in area was in the Magnifica section, which is the Business class section! My face couldn’t hide the excitement. Oh, what a day it would be!
So, as there was no one in front of me, I was quickly attended by the lady on duty. She asked only for my passport and quickly handed me a boarding pass with a seat in Business BUT, no window seat. As ALL of you might now, we A.netters must get a window seat, or… I don’t know… well, I then demanded for a window seat and she gladly looked for one. My face color changed, then! It was 3A. I couldn’t believe it!
Right after that, she handed me an invitation to go to the SkyTeam VIP lounge located inside the terminal. There, I got even happier! However, there was still one more thing to do before entering my dream. I had to go through two more queues: tax/immigration form request and Immigration/Security Check point.
I quickly went to get all those forms filled and proceeded to go to the immigration lines, which were pretty long for my taste. Anyhow, I was too excited to get bothered by stupid lines that I face every time I travel in coach!
No pictures could be taken as there were National Guards all over the place and they can be scary sometimes. I didn’t want to ruin my day, so my apologies (for now!).
By 15.15, I was out of those horrible lines and I was one step closer to my awesome trip. I then went to spot for a while and only got to see my AZ 763 landing; a Star Alliance A343 from LH; another A343 from AF and lastly, an A343 from IB. From within the terminal I got to see only the AZ, LH and AF planes.
Here are the shots of those birds! (Sorry for the quality, weather was awful!)
After that short hop, I went to the VIP lounge to grab a bite and a drink, since I hadn’t had lunch by then. As I got inside, I got alarmed by the amount of people that were inside it. There were families with all their children playing around (skating!), using the computers to chat and goof around, eating all the sandwiches and, of course, drinking whisky (the parents!). I didn’t like that. VIP lounges are supposed to be for business people, not for children playing around.
Anyways, I ate some of the sandwiches with a diet Coke and then went outside to keep on spotting. I just decided to stand in front of my gate and wait for them to call for boarding.
Here you have some shots of the place. It does look crowded!
Alitalia Flight 667 CCS-MXP
Boeing 767-33A/ER I-DEIC
March 28th, 2007.
Scheduled Departure: 16.45
Actual Departure: 17.58
Photo © Marco Toso - SpotIT
Photo © Enrico Pierobon SpotIT
At 16.02, they called for boarding. I was the very first one on the line, so they made me go through another security check point and then, waited for some 15 minutes inside the jet-bridge because the National Guards (Guardia Nacional) had to do some inspection of the plane.
After that, I went inside the amazing 763 (before the handicapped people) and took some shots of my way in through the brand new jet-bridges.
As you can see in the coming picture, the Magnifica class is pretty good. I must say I got impressed by how good it was. I was expecting something very worn and old, but no, I really like the colors and shape.
My seat for the next 9 hours!
Then, I sat down and saw all the (approximately, according to the in-flight magazine Ulisse) 214 people come inside the plane. I felt like the king of the world!
The plane was loaded fast, enough to depart on time. However, Mother Nature was playing us bad. Weather was awful outside and bag-loading got delayed. As a result, as soon as boarding was completed, the captain announced that as soon as the bags were all on the plane, we’d take-off. That waiting time wasn’t a joke; it took us 1 hour and 33 minutes to load the babe. By 17.35, we finally pushed back!
Fortunately, we weren’t the only delayed flight on the airport. LH D-AIGC, AF F-GNIH and TP CS-TEI were also delayed. For the first time on my knowledge, IB got out right on time. They had EC-GOK moving out punctually! What a surprise!
Here are some photos of the other European wide bodies.
Oh well, soon after our push back from gate 13, we turned our engines on and started moving at 17.40, 5 minutes before an hour of delay. As we moved, the flight attendant brought me a very nice glass of red orange juice (Something I fell in love with!)
After that refreshment, we stopped at the hold point of runway 10 for some 18 minutes. We were number 3 for take-off, after a VH DC-9 and LH A343. In the meantime, some other aircraft landed.
Finally, we were cleared for take-off at 17.58; an hour and twelve minutes behind schedule.
Here’s the first video of my beautiful experience!
Right after take-off, we turned left and headed towards the old continent. Climb was smooth; we flew over tons of cloud formations showing our great speed. We had loads of tail wind and turbulence was unknown at the moment!
On our way up, the crew started the service. Here’s the good part!
First, the very nice lady came and set a luxurious table in front of me, followed by the menu and the amenity kit especially designed for Alitalia.
The amenity kit:
Inside the menu, there was also a wine list, with all the necessary details to make a right choice from a vast selection of Italian wine from different regions.
Ok, I had flown with AZ on Magnifica class before. Food was superb, but what I ate on this flight will never be compared to anything I have eaten before on the air!
The menu was:
- Assorted nuts to enjoy with your favorite aperitif.
A choice of:
- Crepes with Ricotta Cheese and Rocket
- Sardinian Gnocchi in Pachino, cherry tomatoes and basil sauce.
A choice of:
- Chicken parcel with goat cheese and tarragon sauce served with runner beans and buttered carrots.
- Sea bream fillet with cherry tomatoes and Lampedusa capers served with crispy vegetables.
- Cheese board selection served with dried fruits and crudités
- Seasonal fresh fruit Basket
- Open bar with desserts and Espresso coffee.
So, as soon as I read the menu, the lady came with the drinks cart. She had nine different brands of wine, plus several aperitifs and regular drinks. I ordered a Tuscan wine called Eliseo Rosso, who accompanied me for the rest of the night! Then, the lady gave me a small plate full of different types of warm nuts.
This was enough to open my appetite. In a perfect timing, the cabin was filled with an incredible aroma. That was when all the flight attendants came out from the galley, all synchronized, to start serving the first dish. As I saw the cart, my mouth opened wide! They were serving the pasta as if they were on a Restaurant. Beautiful!
They came to me and asked for my plate. There, I chose the Gnocchi. She gently served them and asked if I wanted any Parmiggiano on it. I just couldn’t believe it. As I agreed, she handed back my plate and I was… nothing else than stunned. Oh, yes, my glass was filled again!
Well, I ate my first dish and was incredibly happy. The FAs where still serving behind me. On their way back to the galley, the cool guy asked me if I wanted more and I showed my teeth in the most excited way and he served me another amazing plate, and also full of Parmiggiano. Ahò!
Ok, as I finished, the lady retired my plate and went back to the galley. Some minutes later all the FAs came out of the galley synchronized again as if they had practiced it before. First, they offered different kinds of bread and then, they served the second dish. When she came to me, I asked for the chicken. As she served, she asked if I’d like some more wine. Hmm, ok!
The chicken was superb. Usually, airlines serve chicken falsely hot. This time seemed like it came right out of the pan, how? I don’t know!
My god, I was starting to feel quite full, but I couldn’t stop eating. As I finished both my chicken and wine, the lady came to take away my plate and re-fill my glass. This was very interesting!
As they retired all plates, the cheese came. There I got convinced that AZ crew works in a choreographic way. They do everything in perfect timing!
After I ate absolutely everything on my cheese plate, they took away the plates and silverware. Then, another cart came: dessert! When I saw the options I just couldn’t make up on my mind. I asked for two from the three options. Bingo! Incredible, speechless… the cart not only had dessert, it also had all kinds of Italian ‘digestivi’ of which I chose Limoncello. That was enough to bring me down and go into a deep relax.
I must confess that every time the FAs changed plates, I smiled to myself and said: I’m the happiest man alive! By the time I finished my Limoncello, I confirmed that feeling. I was at 38.000ft with my stomach full and extremely happy and comfortable. Oh man… too good to be true!
So, this is what I did after that amazing feast:
Time to go to sleep! The next day would be pretty tough so I must get some sleep, at least enough to have energy to walk!
I reclined my seat, lifted my legs, closed my eyes and I was flying high and fast. On the best place I could ever be. I love it!
Day 2: March 29th, 2007. CCS-MXP & MXP-BIO.
Oh! Good morning!
I woke up when the FAs were giving hot towels and starting to serve breakfast. I realized I slept for some five hours! Way good!
So, breakfast time! The flight attendants came out, again, like a synchronized team. They showed up with a nice cart full of already-served plates with a selection of:
- Seasonal Fresh Fruit
- Selection of yoghurts
- Omelette with mushrooms, roast potatoes and grilled bacon
- Vanilla and chocolate sponge cake with fragrant cookies
- Selection of warm pastries and toasted bread, butter and jam
- DPO Lunigiana Tuscan Honey
After I ate the pastries and cake, which were the main configuration of the plates, the FAs came back to the cabin with another cart with the omelette and the yoghurt. I had to pass that since I wasn’t in the mood of eating much more. I was still pretty full from the previous feast!
Right after they finished serving breakfast, the lady came with some coffee, which I urgently needed. I asked for some without milk and the lady gladly served it to me. Right there is when I woke up; the coffee wasn’t that hot, but the taste was incredible.
After that nice taste, the cabin screens showed we were at 38.000ft traveling at 896km/h with a 32km/h tail wind. Soon after that, we started our descent towards MXP in a very gentle and smooth way at 8.25. I could barely feel it; actually I noticed it because of the information shown on the screens. Then, I started to prepare myself for arrival and checked for passport and tickets. I also kept writing data for the report:
Our descent was incredible. The Alps offered us some amazing sights, with barely any clouds above them. It was a nice contrast to see, when we took off, the tropical Caribbean and then, the European Alps.
Soon later, without noticing it, we started our approach procedures. Visibility was almost zero. By 8.45, the captain asked the crew to prepare the aircraft for landing. Approach was nothing else than a few turns inside dense fog in a very relaxed environment. Soon later, gear was deployed and we were seconds away from touching down on a typical MXP morning.
It was at 8.55 when our B763 touched down on Runway 35R, performing a rather quick stop.
Right after our landing, we exit the runway and quickly went to the Terminal. On our way to the gate, we didn’t see anything exciting, just the common AZ airplanes parked at the remote stands and another B763 I-DEID parked right next to our gate, B6, which was reached at 8.59, some 4 minutes after our arrival.
The best flight of my life was over. I felt very sad because this would be a moment too hard to see it coming again in a near time.
As I was seating in the third row, I was lucky to get out of the aircraft quickly, intended to rush to not miss my connection to BIO. As a matter of fact, I came out of the aircraft and then followed the signals to go to the transfer section of MXP, which was very populated. Among all the people I saw, Africans and Israelites were predominant.
After I passed the transfer section, I had to go through the usual security screening, which was very busy. I was through about 8 minutes later and headed up through the stairs that lead to the gates area. There, I realized I had to perform some sort of a jog since I was quite distant from gate A34. Then, with almost no time for nothing, I ran inside the crowded airport and got to the gate being the last person to board the jet. Woah!
Conclutions on AZ667 CCS-MXP March 28th/29th, 2007.
In the first place I must say my expectations were all satisfied. Before I continue, I must say I’m an Alitalia fan since I was a little kid, and today, It is more than a certain that AZ is an amazing airline, for what I have lived so far.
Now, going to the facts:
- Staff in CCS were all very well mannered, prepared in all possible ways (language, etc.), helpful and eager to make everything right.
- CCS has been amazing for the last few years after it went through the main revamp. Facilities are OK even though there’s lack of space in some sectors; however, for what it was before, I give it a 7/10 qualification.
- The AZ boarding procedures were OK. Even though I was the very first person to board the plane, I saw that the procedure was done on time and with no further events. Passengers were placed correctly on their seats and the plane was ready for departure on time. However, I must say that the one-hour delay that we suffered was due to bad weather which led the bag boarding process to considerably slow down.
- On board, AZ crew was superb. All the services on-board were magnificent and the aspect of each of the crew members was impeccable. They were constantly looking around to check if we needed something and were always glad to do the job. Crew got a 10/10 qualification.
- The aircraft was in good shape, even though AZ 763s are famous for being extremely worn. My seat was comfortable and the cabin had a good temperature, lightning and entertainment system. Toilettes were good and clean. I’ll give the aircraft (overall) a 7/10 qualification.
- Services such as food and announcements were accurate. Food was amazing, drinks incredible and the announcements were made when really required. 9/10.
My trip Overall: 8.5/10
For those who hate Alitalia, I am sorry to disappoint you. Today, I had the best flight of my life, where service was the protagonist and the environment was just superb. Alitalia has a lot to give. If they renew their long-haul fleet, they can be easily paired up with the big airlines of the world. All they need is someone who decides what its really needed and then, everything will be great, I assure it.
Grazie Alitalia, sei stata meravigliosa!
I hope this report was explicit enough to make you feel my experience as real as possible. I really enjoyed writing it for you guys.
To read the report on my following flight to BIO, please click on the following link:
Thanks for reading!
[Edited 2007-04-16 04:18:40]