An Alitalia Airbus A330-200. Delish!
Alitalia is one of those airlines that I have always watched closely but have never had the chance to fly. While its business matters are complicated and ever evolving, Alitalia continues to run a solid operation with a highly regarded business class product and service standard. I was happy to join the airline for a flight in Magnifica Class on its newly added Dulles to Rome route, one of a small handful of new routes Alitalia has added to its map this year.
Alitalia does not have its own lounge at Dulles and instead leans on Skyteam partner Air France, but that lounge is currently under renovation so Magnifica passengers have access to the nearby Turkish Airlines lounge in the meantime. After a few lounge drinks it was time to board EI-EJL, an Airbus A330-200. Alitalia’s longhaul fleet is made up of 14 Airbus A330-200s, 11 Boeing 777-200s, and one single Boeing 777-300ER. Why does its fleet contain a single 777-300ER? Well, nobody really knows, actually.
An Airbus A330 with off-colored nose – Photo: Ken Donohue
For the past few years, our family has spent spring break in Maui, but with the increasing number of Asian carriers landing at North American airports, especially those from mainland China, airfares to Asia have been too good to pass up. That’s why we decided to fly from Vancouver (YVR) to Bangkok (BKK), and spend two weeks in Thailand, instead.
Vancouver has long been Canada’s gateway to Asia. In fact, from many U.S. cities, it’s often quicker to route through Vancouver when traveling to eastern Asia. Fifteen Asian carriers currently serve Vancouver; seven of those are from mainland China, including Hainan Airlines which joined the list in May, with a twice-weekly service connecting the western Canadian city with Shenzhen and Tianjin.
We booked with China Eastern, as they had a great deal of $730 CDN ($570USD) all-in to Bangkok. The airline first started service to Vancouver in 2004, and now has 14 flights a week to YVR. I had never flown the Shanghai-based carrier before, and looking at the online reviews, their service is decidedly mixed.
Some of the reviews went like this: “what a nightmare experience”, “never recommend this airline”, “service is awful and messy”, “worst airline”. To be fair, there were an equal number of positive comments, but I even noticed that social media comments on the airline made the overly anxious reach for the refund policy when they read negative comments.
A day before our trip, I caught my wife looking up reviews of the airline. “What kind of airline is this,” she asked? “Just go with no expectations, then you might be surprised,” I told her. “Well, I do have an expectation now, and it doesn’t seem good,” she replied.
It never gets old: Sea-Tac’s fire department welcomes Eurowings to Seattle with a traditional turret salute.
Germany-based discount airline Eurowings launched thrice-weekly service to Seattle from Cologne on July 11, using Airbus A330s for the route. Eurowings is owned by Lufthansa Group..
Aer Lingus Airbus A330-300
To say a lot has changed at Aer Lingus since I last flew the airline in 2014 would be an understatement. The airline’s fleet has grown, new destinations have been added, new products introduced, and ownership has transferred to IAG, the parent group of British Airways. On a recent work trip between New York JFK and Berlin, I had a chance to try out the new Aer Lingus business class product, which is now fully rolled out to every long-haul aircraft in the fleet. Yes, even the 757s.
My trip started at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK, where Aer Lingus is one of just two other airlines that share the terminal with JetBlue. For whatever reason, Aer Lingus is incapable of issuing mobile boarding passes on flights to and from the United States, so I had a chance to visit the dedicated business class check-in desks. Staffed by friendly JetBlue employees, I was quickly checked-in and on my way to the relatively new Aer Lingus lounge.