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.
The Etihad A380 operates a daily service to Sydney; sadly the return flight is at night – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Having recently experienced Etihad’s outstanding first class apartment on the Airbus A380, I had high expectations of their business studio product. While I already had a chance to view the entire Etihad A380 during last year’s Dubai airshow, I was still excited to try out the product on a nice long flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi; the only downside of course being that the entire flight would be during the night.
The Etihad business studio really is flying reimagined and it is a product that exceeds some carriers’ first class products – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Check-in and all other departure formalities were completed with ease. It was nice to see that Etihad had recently opened a dedicated lounge in Sydney. While it might not be as grand and glamorous as Etihad’s New York JFK lounge, it is certainly a step above the Air New Zealand lounge which was previously used. Although slightly on the small side (particularly when the flight is full), the lounge does offer a few unique and welcome additions not often seen in business class lounges. This included the option of a la carte dining, with a rather extensive menu, as well as a well stocked bar and plentiful waitstaff to assist.
One of the British Airways Airbus A318s at JFK – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer Lindgren | JDLMultimedia
When it comes to long-haul flying, typically the bigger the aircraft the better. Whether it’s the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, these are the aircraft typically associated with extreme luxury – private suites, on-board showers, and maybe even a fully stocked bar. Sometimes, though, smaller might actually be better. British Airways operates a pair of tiny Airbus A318s between New York JFK and London City Airport (LCY) with a business class-only configuration featuring only 32 seats (by comparison, Air France carries 131 passengers on their A318s). It sure is a strange (but great) way to fly. To give you a sense of just how small the A318 is, here are some numbers to help size it up: The Airbus A380 sports a total length of 238 feet with a 261-foot wingspan. The A318 is just 103 feet long with a wingspan of just under 112 feet.
The British Airways A318 cabin only has 32 seats – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
I was recently able to fly from JFK to LCY and experience what it’s like flying into London on the A318. Spoiler: It’s wonderful and actually quite a different experience. While the London to New York flight involves a stop in Shannon, Ireland for fuel, the reverse flight is non-stop.
A Gazprom Yak-42D – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Many people used to call Southwest Airlines an “oil company with wings.” Well, what if you could find an oil company that ran an airline on the side? I did.
Gazprom is the world’s largest extractor of natural gas. Not only that, they have also extracted tens of millions of barrels of crude oil. They are one of the largest companies in Russia. One interesting thing is that around 2,800 of Gazprom’s 393,000 employees work in their aviation division.
Is this a private employee shuttle? Not always. At first glance, one would assume their fleet of Superjets, Yak-42Ds, Tu-154Ms, and even 737-700s (as well as over one hundred helicopters) ply the vast Siberian and Arctic skies from oilfield to oilfield. Nope — they also provide scheduled passenger service. One would think this would be an easy way to catch a ride on a Yakovlev Yak-42 . This is Russia; there’s always a catch!