Air One kicks off flights from Boston and Chicago to Milan

When most people are asked to think of an Italian airline, they automatically think of Alitalia, the struggling national carrier known for mediocre service that was almost bought out by KLM and Air France earlier this year.

Few outside of Italy actually know of the nation’s second largest carrier, Air One, a privately held company that until now has flown mainly to domestic destinations. With the nation’s carrier stumbling though and the Open Skies Agreement in play, Air One (pronounced in Italian “heron”, as in the bird) is ready to make it’s move.

Starting this week, the airline is launching flights from Chicago and Boston directly to Milan on two Airbus A330-200 jumbo jets. They plan to offer a uniquely Italian experience, with catering from Chicago chef Phil Stefani, Italian movies and superior inflight service.

The interior of the cabin will be configured with 22 business class and just over 200 economy seats, although they tell me that they’re going to be expanding their business product by the end of the year. Each business class seat will have private video screens with a selection of movies, while there will be shared overhead screens in Coach.

For the frequent flyers out there, Air One has allied itself with Lufthansa and United, so you’ll be able to earn Star miles on your way to Milan. On the Italian side, connecting flights on Air One and Lufthansa will be available.

How different will the service be from the Lufthansa and United tranastlantic products? The top brass assure me that the “authentic Italian experience” will be enough to set the carrier above the competition, but I wasn’t able to get solid leg-room, inflight entertainment or operational data just yet. We’ll see how the first few flights go.

In the mean time, AirOne flights have already been loaded into the search engines, so you’ll pick them up when running a Kayak search. You can also check out their website for more details. Give them a try and tell us how it goes.