Last week, Italian carrier Alitalia became the only airline to offer a direct flight from the West Coast to the heart of Western Civilization.
Passengers can catch an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles International to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumincino Airport and arrive during the midday, allowing for a full afternoon of monument hunting within hours of touchdown.
The expansion to Los Angeles marks Alitalia’s 7th city in North America to offer a direct connection to Rome and the airline’s 79th destination worldwide.
If the announcement sounds familiar, it is; the same route was offered for just 8 months in 2008, before the economic downturn forced many carriers to make major cutbacks. But thanks to a complete restructuring in 2009, the airline promises it is committed to a long term investment in connecting Los Angeles with Italy once more.
Such investment is just one example of the airline’s recent efforts to battle decades of mixed reviews and a subpar reputation for punctuality.
When Alitalia merged with competitor Air One in 2009, they subsequently established an all-new private entity with new management and direction. Since the reorganization, Alitalia has resolved to provide service with the finesse and pride that Italy is famous for, from the moment that passengers step onto the plane.
This new initiative for luxury and service is spearheaded by Alitalia’s upgrade of their Magnifica business class, which is featured on the LAX-Rome route.
The new business class focuses on bringing the best of Italy’s regions together with award winning seasonal food & wine pairings, all-Italian silverware & linens, and full flat seating to be introduced in 2011.
Menus in the Magnifica class will feature a different Italian region each season with meals paired to Italian wines by the Italian Sommelier Association; a tough combination to beat.
While you may not find the cheapest transatlantic fares with Alitalia, their resolve for rebuilding the company’s reputation with world-class service is only upstaged by the convenience of the route itself, and certainly worth a second look for this summer.
I was able to experience Alitalia’s new service on a trip sponsored by the airline, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely my own.