Alitalia tagged posts

19 Hours in Milan: Alitalia CTA-LIN, the Hilton Milan, and exploring the city

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This post is in two parts- (1) Catania Airport and my flight on Alitalia from Catania to Milan, and (2) my stay at the Hilton Milan and brief exploration of Milan

Catania Airport and Alitalia Catania to Milan

IMG_1970After two days in Sicily, it was time to make our way back to the U.S., via Milan. Since the Milan-JFK flight leaves in the morning, the cheap fare included an overnight layover in Milan. Both involved flying from Sicily to Milan-Linate, the closer in of Milan’s two airports, and flying out of Milan-Malpensa, the larger airport farther outside the city. Since there was an airport change involved, there really wasn’t much to be gained by taking an evening flight to Milan and sleeping at an airport hotel, so instead we took an early afternoon flight, which would give us half a day to explore the city.

The cab ride to the airport was a lot faster than our incoming ride, and a little cheaper, totaling 27 Euro. The Catania airport was definitely an experience. Security was pretty nutty, as lots of Sicilians stood in the beginning of the security line shouting and crying as their friends and family wound their way through the rest of the line. The same yappy dog that had been our flight from Zurich was on the security line (I recognized its yelp), but thankfully, it seemed to be flying back to Zurich on Air Berlin. There was no special line for Skyteam Elite passengers, but it moved at a decent clip, but for the wealthy Italian women in front of me who had knee high boots and tons of jewelry that were definitely not TSA-friendly.

Catania Airport security

Catania Air...

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Flying Alitalia Business Class from Tel Aviv to Rome to London-Heathrow

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Our return routing from Israel to Washington was a complicated one.  Originally, I was booked on the reverse of our inbound trip, Tel Aviv to Paris, Paris to Dulles, on Air France business class.  There was no availability on any of the morning flights out of Tel Aviv, so I was going to have an overnight at Charles DeGaulle, before continuing onto Dulles in the morning.

Award availability was even more difficult for my boyfriend, who was going to use United (pre-devaluation) miles.  The only transatlantic flight I could find in business class was London to Dulles, the same time as my Paris to Dulles flight.  But no Star Alliance carrier flies from Tel Aviv to London, so the best I could do was Tel Aviv to Vienna to London on Austrian, with the LHR-IAD flight in the morning.

After we booked our flights, Air France had a schedule and equipment change (away from the A380), which didn’t substantially change my itinerary.  But in the interim, award availability had opened up on Virgin Atlantic’s LHR-IAD flight, leaving the same time as my boyfriend’s LHR-IAD flight.  I’ve always wanted to fly Virgin’s Upper Class, and as this was pretty much the last of my Skymiles, it was a perfect opportunity.  I then faced the same problem, though, of getting from Tel Aviv to London.  The only option was Alitalia, connecting in Rome.  Not ideal, but we’d end up having to get only one hotel for the night, and I’d flown Alitalia on TLV-FCO before, and it was fine.

The Dan Lounge at Ben Gurion is used by most of the airlines that fly out of TLV, except for El Al.  It had been completely renovated since my last visit in 2012, and was actually pretty nice, though a bit cramped. The food on offer was pretty good.  It was all cold, but I don’t know if that was because it was Shabbat. There was tuna salad, eggplant, hummus, babaganoush, green salad, and some rolls, cakes, and cookies. I had a sampling, a Diet Coke, and a mineral water before heading to my Alitalia gate.IMG_1412

Dan Lounge TLV

Dan Lounge TLV

I boarded my Alitalia flight on schedule, with a lot more Italians than I had had on previous Alitalia flights to and from Israel, and there were a lot of crosses and rosary beads, priests, and an insane number of people who couldn’t figure out how to find their seats.

Leaving Tel Aviv

Leaving Tel Aviv

The A321 was identical to the one I rode and reviewed two y...

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Trip Report: Madrid Part V: Flying with Shirley Maclaine and hundreds of Orthodox Jews on Alitalia FCO-JFK

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The wallet situation was not the only unusual experience of my Madrid weekend. No, I had perhaps the strangest flight I’ve ever had on my return.

I don’t quite remember why I decided on a 6am departure out of Madrid.  I’m sure it was cheaper than other options, but it would certainly have been worth it to spend a little more to have a little more rest.  I had arranged for a taxi to come pick me up at the Radisson at 4am, as I read it would run about 35 euros and would be quick at that hour.  I could have done the Airport Express bus, but that takes a little longer and runs only every 35 minutes and I didn’t want to be walking the streets of Madrid at 3:45 and then end up missing a bus.

I headed down to check out at around 3:50 and the desk staff was very nice, directing me to a coffee and tea spread they had set up in the bar. They told me they’d come get me when the taxi arrived.  Around 4:03, I noticed that there was no taxi yet.  At 4:05, the front desk staff called the taxi company, and one of the guys went outside to see if he could find the taxi.  The taxi called the hotel and said he’d be there in “two minutes.”  Finally, around 4:20, he showed up, though I was already getting very antsy.  Luckily, there is no traffic at 4:20 in the morning and we were at the airport by 4:45. Unfortunately, there is a rule with taxis in Madrid that, when a cab is called, the meter starts running from wherever the taxi is when it is called – which means the meter was already at almost 9 euros when I got in, without a 5.50 euro airport surcharge.  The total ended up being 48 euros – way more than it should have been.  I gave the guy 55 euros and headed inside as I didn’t care to figure out why it had gotten so high.  I could have just booked a private transfer on Viator and not had to worry about getting cash for that price, but oh well.

The first thing I noticed when I got into the terminal at Madrid was that there was trash everywhere.  It looked like garbage had just been collecting on the floors of the airport for days.  Weird.IMG_0018-001 IMG_0016-001

There was no line at the Alitalia Sky Priority check-in, and I got my boarding passes and headed for security, where there was again no line.  It was a bit of a trek through the terminal, which was mostly a ghost town at that hour.  Skyteam Schengen flights mostly depart out of Terminal 2’s E gates, which is a pleasant, airy, modern terminal – though it was also covered with garbage.  Surprisingly, there was a lounge open before 5am, which I had access to as a Delta Gold Medallion on a Skyteam flight (and also as a Priority Pass member).  The lounge looked out over the terminal and was relatively nice for a contract lounge.  There were some pastries, yogurts, and pasta salad, and self serve alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.  Wifi access was limited to a code good for 30 minutes only, which was good enough for me since boarding would begin in less than 30 minutes.  Since it was a code for the airport’s pay wireless system, it worked once outside the lounge as well, which was nice.   I had some water and an apple pastry, sent some last minute emails to folks in the States before they went to sleep, and then it was time to board.

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Trip Report: Madrid Part II, A new airline: Air Europa FCO-MAD

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Air Europa 1040, Boeing 737, Economy
Sched. Dep. 10:30am, Actual Dep. 10:30am
Sched. Arr. 1:10pm, Actual Arr. 12:57pm

I was actually a little excited to fly Air Europa for the shorthaul from Rome to Madrid.  Not because I’d heard anything good about it, mind you, but just because it’s an airline I’ve never flown.  The Spanish air market is a turbulent one.  For awhile, each of the major alliances had a Spain-based carrier – Iberia, the former national carrier, in OneWorld, Spanair in Star Alliance, and Air Europa in SkyTeam.  Plus, Spain is widely served by low-cost carriers- Barcelona-based Vueling as well as Ryan Air and EasyJet. But as the global economy took a hit, and the Spanish economy took a particularly bad one, the Spanish carriers faced some tough times.  Iberia, now owned by the same parent as British Airways, has cut its frequencies to the Americas greatly.  Spanair went under.  Air Europa slashed its Barcelona schedule.

Air Europa does fly to Madrid from JFK, and if necessary, it can be an okay use of Delta Skymiles.  From what I’ve read, though, the business class product is quite poor, and on a flight of that length, I don’t think it would be worth the cost.

Anyways, onto my actual flight.   By the time I got from the Alitalia transfer desk to the gate, there was only about 20 minutes until scheduled boarding.  I didn’t actually have a boarding pass, so had to wait on line to get one, and the Alitalia staff manning the counter was having some computer trouble.  There wasn’t enough time for me to head back to a lounge, so I just grabbed a bottle of water at a café by the gate.

Board...

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Trip Report: Weekend in Madrid Part 1: Alitalia JFK-FCO, a Missed Connection, and Why Chris Elliott is Wrong

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Trip Report: Weekend in Madrid Part 1:  JFK-FCO and a Missed Connection

Alitalia Flt. 609, Boeing 777, Economy
Sched. Dep. 5:35pm, Actual Dep. 7:05pm
Sched. Arr. 8:10am, Actual Arr. 9:10am

In the fall, Alitalia had a promo on its Japanese website that effectively took $250 off the price of any Alitalia ticket booked on that site.  Alitalia said it had only been meant for flights departing from Japan, but in the end, honored tickets that, after the $250 discount, still had a net positive cost to the customer.  So lots of people who had bought shorthauls within Europe were out of luck.  But for folks like me who had bought tickets to Madrid that still cost around $280 after the coupon, the tickets were honored.   So a long weekend in Madrid it was.  Huzzah!

Although I’ve flown Alitalia to Europe before, I’ve never flown it in coach, and never flown it out of JFK.  Alitalia’s business class is generally an underrated/forgotten Skymiles redemption, and in the past I’ve redeemed for flights out of Newark on what I think is Skyteam’s best transatlantic business product.  You can read about my last flights on Alitalia here and here.  So this was basically an entirely new experience for me.

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Alitalia bargains – $280 to Madrid!!

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No new posts in 2 months. Eep!  Someone’s been a hard working litigator.

Quick post as Westlaw research awaits, but I had to share this one.

Alitalia has some crazy promos right now.  If you book a flight from November to March (holiday weeks excluded), save 25% off your flight using the code “SPECIAL”.   That can lead to some very cheap flights on Alitalia-operated aircraft to Madrid, Moscow, Istanbul, and Tel Aviv.  Even better, though, is the code “PROMOJP”, which only works on the Alitalia Japan site.  That code gets you $320 off your flight!   You must book using the Japanese site, though.  Hint- use Google Chrome, which will automatically translate the site for you.

Remember, Alitalia is a Skyteam partner, which will earn MQMs and RDMs on Delta – great way to top off an acco...

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Trip Report: Flying Home: Alitalia Magnifica – Tel Aviv to Rome to JFK

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Getting out of Israel is a schlep.

As I’d noted in an earlier flight, my departing flight from Tel Aviv to Rome left at the ungodly hour of 5:15 am.  This is actually quite common for European flights, and there’s a huge bank of flights to Europe leaving between 4:30 and 6:00 am, which land on the Continent in time for the start of the work day, and also to connect to morning flights across Europe and elsewhere.

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Trip Report: Alitalia Business Rome to Tel Aviv

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Alitalia Flt. 812, Ottima Business Class (Skymiles redemption)
Airbus 321

I left the Intercontinental with plenty of time to make my 11:35 flight out of Fiumcino to Rome.  I was a bit nervous about taking the subway with my luggage, but it was not a big deal at all.  On the same block as my hotel, I took an elevator down the Spanish Steps and right into the metro station.  It was then three stops to Roma Termini, where I had eight minutes to make the next Leonardo Express to the airport.  I had to move pretty quickly between the unhelpful signage and the queue at the ticket machine, but I made it with two or three minutes to spare!

I checked in without incident (or so I thought, see below), and made my way through security (the “Fast Track” lane for business passengers, which was probably unnecessary), and immigration (where the agent didn’t even look at my passport, just waved me through).   I then headed to the Alitalia “Le Navi” lounge, which was the same lounge I passed a layover in in 2010, and sadly hadn’t changed at all.  Food options in the small lounge consisted of one tray of foccacia, one tray of croissants, and a bowl of snack mix.  The bartender made some good cappuccinos though.  The free wifi (accessed via a text message) was a bit slow, and the bathrooms a step up from bus terminal. Worst though was the heat, which was a good 10 degrees warmer than the main terminal, and pretty oppressive.  After two cappuccinos, I switched to ice water.  About 20 minutes from scheduled boarding time, I started making my way to the H gates- where a mishmash of airlines board their flights to non-Schengen European destinations, as well as Tel Aviv, via remote stands.

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Trip Report: Newark to Rome in Alitalia Magnifica Class

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Alitalia Flt. 643  Newark (EWR) to Rome (FCO)
Airbus 330, Magnifica Class, Skymiles Award Redemption
Sched. Dep. 4:50 pm  Actual Dep.  4:35 pm
Sched. Arr.  7:10 am   Actual Arr.   6:50 am

My vacation started out under a bit of stress.  The plan was to take the express bus from Bryant Park, near my office, to Newark, arriving around 2:45 – plenty of time for a 4:50 flight to Rome.  Alas, the bus stopped for a very long time at the Port Authority, slowly loading passengers and their luggage, and then loading more arriving passengers as they arrived, well past our scheduled departure.  It then took us a very long time to even get from the Port Authority to the Lincoln Tunnel, at which point I checked the Alitalia website from my phone and realized the minimum check-in time was 120 minutes – not 90 minutes as I’d assumed.  (Online check-in had been unavailable.)  And it was already less than 120 minutes to departure and we were still in Manhattan!  All sorts of disaster scenarios involving canceled tickets and pleading with surly Italians ran through my head, though I forced myself to breathe until we arrived at the airport, and deal with whatever happened then.

At around 3:25, we finally got to Newark’s Terminal B, which serves a hodgepodge of non-United airlines (mainly international plus Delta and Alaska). I bolted up the stairs to the Alitalia check-in – where I was apparently the last business class passenger to check-in, but there was no problem.  Neurotic worry for nothing, but I will allow longer next time!

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My Upcoming Mediterranean Adventure: Italy and Tel Aviv Pride

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Happy Memorial Day from YWW!  I’ll actually be spending the day in the office, but got some beach and family time in earlier in the weekend.  As we kick off the summer travel season, let’s all remember the day as one to commemorate those who have fought in battles – both literally and metaphorically.

I didn’t travel this weekend, but my weekend did have a lot of travel planning, as I am preparing for a twelve day sojourn to the Mediterranean at the end of the week.  It’s hard to get away from work for that long, so I’ve been trying to get ahead of things.  Alas, I’m sure I will end up doing some work on the road.  Oh, well.  I’ll also try and keep you all posted as to my experiences on the journey!

Since I’ve been so swamped at work, I haven’t really planned much for my trip other than hotels and basic transportation.  To that extent, though, the trip is looking to be a pretty cheap one, as I’m spending a lot of points and miles, though I will also be earning back a decent amount of the Priority Club points I’m spending.  The trip itself derived from a desire to go to Tel Aviv Pride, as I haven’t been to Israel since 1999, and then barely spent time in Tel Aviv.  I imagine I will have a very different experience now from when I spent the summer studying in Israel as a 15 year old.

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