Flying Alitalia

ALITALIAItaly! If you have seen my posts from mid-June to early July, you know how totally mesmerized I was about my Italy experience, and it all started when I boarded the Alitalia plane in Toronto.

The Experience

Our three-hour drive to the airport was harrowing, especially when we couldn’t figure out the parking situation nor how to get to the terminals once we finally did find a somewhat reasonable long-term lot. Despite the remarkably cheaper fares out of the Toronto airport, I was not impressed.

Onward.

We were early – like four hours – for the flight, but I am a nerd who loves hanging around airports looking at people and making up their stories. This time the stories added up to a book.

In the meantime, we ate, drank and made merry.

A half hour before flight time: Enter 4 flight attendants dressed in striking uniforms reminiscent of the 1960s, Jackie Kennedy and the trend-setting styles of Italian fashion of that era. The jackets of the suits were hip length atop narrow, perfectly form-fitting skirts. The look was completed with pillbox hats perched on heads with perfectly coiffed buns, leather gloves (Italy is known for its leather), and lovely satchel purses – all the same. Now the real stunner of these outfits was the colors: the suits were either all green or all red, the colors of the Italian flag. If the suit was green, the gloves and stockings were red, and vice-versa. The mail attendants green suited uniforms were not as compelling.

Next – the pilots: I have been gushing about the head pilot ever since this flight. (Dominic is ready to send me back to Italy). I truly almost fell over when in walked this tall, dark, young-ish and unbelievably good-looking pilot. My goal became to somehow find my way into that cockpit – not. This pilot was my introduction to Italian men, excluding Dominic, of course.

Time to board: The atmosphere was immediately set with a specially recorded version of Volare, originally recorded and released in 1958 in Italy and subsequently sung by such American notables as Dean Martin and Connie Francis. I was hooked. I’ve been listening to this version of the song ever since I’ve been home.

The rest of the flight: good, good, good. A night flight is never fun, but the angst of this one was mitigated with surprisingly good food – dinner and breakfast were served, all the drinks (free alcohol!) we wanted, and attentive service. I almost didn’t want to get off, but Italy beckoned. (More to follow on this.)

The Facts

I am obsessed with this airline and thus I embarked upon a study of it.  This is what I discovered:

  • In 2014, Abu Dhabi based carrier, Etihad, ‘purchased’ the struggling Alitalia with a 49% investment
  • Both airlines assure Alitalia will be profitable by 2017
  • A key part of the new strategy was the new uniforms, launched exactly one month prior to our flight
  • Alitalia seeks to improve the overall customer experience while cementing its image as an Italian- carrier
  • Alitalia is expanding its reach to Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Mexico City, Santiago and San Francisco

Flying Alitalia was the most astounding flying experience I have ever had. Keep up the impressive work, Alitalia. I am already planning my trip for next year!

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