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Snap Report: Alitalia AZ 604 MXP-JFK Premium Economy Review

Milan Malapensa Airport (MXP) – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

STD: 3:25 PM ATD: 3:25 PM GMT+1
STA: 6:35 PM ATA: 5:35 PM GMT-5

Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Flight Date: March 29, 2017
Seat: 09C
Class of Service: Premium Economy
Seat Pitch: 38 inches
Seat Width: 18 inches
Meals: Lunch and snack, complimentary beverages
In-Seat Outlets: Yes
WiFi: Yes (paid)
IFE: Yes

 

Introduction

I was on my way home from Milan to New York on a Wednesday.  When I’d flown to Milan, it was on the Saturday night red-eye, and it was a packed plane.  The Wednesday afternoon return is quite empty.  I noted that business class and economy only seemed half full.  I was the only person in the seventeen person premium economy cabin!

Check In & Boarding

Check in was easy.  I arrived at Milan-Malpensa Terminal 1 around 1pm.  There was a separate premium line for check-in and I loved quickly through check-in and bag drop.  Going through security, there were signs moving people with United States and Israel passports through a separate security area, though the line there was quite short.  Security leads you to the Terminal 1 “A” gates.  If you’re flying from the “B” gates, you’ll have to pass through an additional security check (mainly just showing your passport) and then walk a few minutes to the “B” gates.   The line was very short for this process. The food and shopping options are much better in the “A” area, though the duty-free options seemed the same in both areas.  I don’t know how you would gauge how long the passport check line may be, but I would factor in a little time to go through this process. 

The Flight

When I checked in, the Alitalia employee asked me if I wanted to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class for $800, which seemed a bit steep to me.  It surprised me that Alitalia didn’t seem to offer any free upgrades for customers.  They definitely had the space to offer a few upgrades, and I’ve definitely had the experience that getting a free upgrade can make a customer more loyal to a brand in the future.  

Boarding started on time.  In the terminal, they made an announcement of the order of all the groups that would board.  A second announcement was made that boarding was made as previously described, but I didn’t hear them call any specific groups.  As a result, there were a large rush of people to start around the boarding lanes, but not a lot of clarity about who could actually board. I was impressed by the speed of boarding, we started at 2:40pm, and the plane doors were shut at 3:05pm.  

The Premium Economy cabin is set up in a 2-3-2 configuration.  There are two rows on the sides and three rows in the middle, totaling to 17 seats.  

Alitalia Airbus A330 Premium Economy seatmap. Credit: Seatguru

Leg room and seat width are generous.  There’ s a fold-out foot rest, though I found the bottom for the foot rest to be difficult to work.  A second button helps you move the seat back.  

Alitalia AZ604 MXP JFK Airbus A330

My service experience was not typical because I was the only person in the cabin, but I did find the items offered and availability of the flight attendants to be equivalent to the service offered on my full flight to Milan.  Before take-off, I was offered champagne, water, or orange juice, as well as my choice of newspapers in Italian or English.  After take-off, I was given a hot towel for my face.

Weather was good as we flew, and I had to keep the windows in the cabin closed because it was so bright outside, but there were some amazing views of the French/Italian Alps as we climbed to our cruising altitude.  

Alitalia AZ604 MXP JFK Airbus A330

For IFE, I found the screen to be good quality, and it came with a remote that stored itself pretty easily in the armrest.  The movie choices weren’t great.  They had a couple of 2016 releases (Manchester by the Sea, The Accountant, The Birth of a Nation), but nothing that really appealed to me.  There was also an assortment of older movies (Now You See Me, We’re the Millers, Aladdin), but nothing too exciting there either. Since I had seen these choices on my flight to Milan, I had come prepared with some downloaded Netflix content on my tablet.  A flight attendant did come around to offer over-ear headphones.  

Alitalia AZ604 MXP JFK Airbus A330

The seats also offered a USB charging outlet below the IFE screen in front, and outlets down between the seats.  For seats in the first row (row 8), the IFE screen was stored in the bottom part of the armest, and the USB charging outlet was moved between the seats.  On my flight to Milan, I sat in seat 8D (a bulkhead seat), and found that the angle of the IFE screen was not the most ideal for viewing.  

Alitalia AZ604 MXP JFK Airbus A330

Lunch was served about an hour into the flight.  The attendant gave me a choice of lasagna or “meat”.  I heard from my co-workers that the lasagna was quite good, but I ordered the meat (still not sure what kind of meat it was), which was just okay.  It came with potatoes, which I enjoyed, and some spinach.  The salad came with smoked salmon and a little bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and was pretty tasty.  The dessert was an almond flavored cake, and pretty good.  Lunch was served with ceramic tableware, real cutlery, and cloth napkin, which I appreciated.  

Alitalia AZ604 MXP JFK Airbus A330

In the middle of the flight, we were served a snack.  There was something that resembled a warm pizza turnover, and a sort of small tart.  They were pretty good, and served at the right time to tide over my appetite until I arrived at home and could eat dinner.  

Alitalia AZ604 MXP JFK Airbus A330

Landing

Landing was smooth, and we touched down an hour ahead of schedule.  Our advertised gate was full, but while we were waiting, they reassigned us to an empty gate.  I flew through customers (thank you Global Entry) and had to wait for baggage to reach our carousel.  However, my luggage had been tagged Priority, so I didn’t have to wait too long before I was out of the airport and on my way home.  

The Takeaway

When I flew to Milan initially, I was pleased with the level of service in the premium economy cabin and the comfort of the seats.   I was equally pleased with the service this time, and enjoyed having the cabin to myself.   I’ve only flown premium economy before with United Airlines.  On that flight, there wasn’t much different between premium economy and regular economy seats (all in the same cabin) except that the premium rows were spaced a little further apart.   I think you get a lot more value from the premium economy seat from Alitalia than on other airlines. It felt like it was truly bridging the gap between business class and economy service, at a reasonable price.

Special thanks to our guest writer Laura for sharing her experiences on Alitalia’s Premium Economy! Sounds like Alitalia offers a good service, which is differentiated from their standard economy cabin. Overall sounds like a great option for crossing the Atlantic if you’re headed to Italy. What’s your favorite Premium Economy cabin? Leave us a note in the comments! – Joey

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