Review: ITA Airways Business Class A320 (FCO-CAI)

Review: ITA Airways Business Class A320 (FCO-CAI)

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FROM: FCO
TO: CAI
CABIN: Business
DATE: February 2023
REVIEW RATING:
SEAT MAP: A320-200 V.4
BEN SAYS: ITA's A320 business class is pretty no frills, as there's no Wi-Fi, streaming entertainment, or power outlets. At least the food is pretty good.
11

To finish off the first portion of my four flights across the Atlantic, I flew ITA Airways’ Airbus A320 business class from Rome to Cairo. While the transatlantic ITA Airways A350 flight really impressed me, this flight was a bit less favorable. Now, admittedly short haul flights from Europe are consistently nothing to get excited about, but I found ITA’s product to be especially bare bones.

How I booked my ITA Airways business class ticket

While ITA Airways is a member of SkyTeam, unfortunately the airline doesn’t offer any reciprocal award redemptions, so you can’t redeem partner miles for travel on ITA. As a result, I had to pay cash for my ticket. Fortunately I found a reasonably decent business class fare from Miami to Cairo via Rome. Specifically, I booked the following for $1,436 all-in:

2/06 AZ631 Miami to Rome departing 8:00PM arriving 11:40AM (+1 day)
2/07 AZ894 Rome to Cairo departing 10:10PM arriving 2:25AM (+1 day)

ITA Airways business class lounge & boarding

I spent my extended layover at the ITA Airways Lounge Rome. Fortunately my flight was departing from gate E11, which is the closest gate to the lounge. Boarding was scheduled for 9:35PM, 35 minutes ahead of departure.

ITA Airways departure gate Rome Airport

Boarding ended up being rather chaotic. It started at 9:40PM, and then those in wheelchairs were boarded first, followed by those in business class. The issue is that everyone was sent down the jet bridge at the same time, so passengers had to wait in the jet bridge for around 10 minutes while wheelchair boarding was happening (and it was pretty darn cold in the jet bridge!).

ITA Airways A320 business class cabin & seats

For what it’s worth, my flight was operated by the Airbus A320 with the registration code EI-IKB, making it a roughly 23-year-old plane that previously flew for Alitalia. As is standard on narrow body jets in Europe, business class simply consisted of economy seats with a blocked middle. The size of the business class cabin can vary with each flight, just by moving the curtain. On this flight there wasn’t much business class demand, as there were just six seats.

There was one row on the right side of the plane, and two rows on the left side of the plane (for this configuration, row one is only on the left side of the plane, as the bulkhead on the right side is a bit further back).

It’s clear that not much had been done with these cabins in the past decade. While that’s bad news when it comes to tech, it’s good news in terms of ITA not having the slimline seats (with virtually no padding) that you find on so many airlines nowadays.

ITA Airways A320 business class seats

I had assigned myself seat 2F, the window seat on the right side. It seems the crew could have put a bit more effort into preparing the cabin, like placing the curtain behind the headrest, rather than on top of it.

ITA Airways A320 business class seats

I at least appreciated that the middle seat had an extra tray that could be folded down, as many airlines have eliminated this in short haul business class from Europe.

ITA Airways A320 business class center tray table

The tray table could be extended from the far armrest, given that I was in a bulkhead.

ITA Airways A320 business class tray table

Nowadays I generally prefer bulkhead seats on short haul flights from Europe, given that the legroom is a bit better than you’ll find in other rows.

ITA Airways A320 business class bulkhead

The only other seat features were the seat recline button (recline was limited, as you’d expect), and there were also buttons for audio channels, though they didn’t actually work.

ITA Airways A320 business class seat recline

The overhead console was definitely a bit outdated, but at least there were individual air nozzles.

ITA Airways A320 business class overhead console

Unfortunately ITA’s A320 business class is otherwise pretty no frills, with no power outlets, no Wi-Fi, no streaming entertainment, and no other inflight entertainment. That’s not a huge deal given that these planes mostly operate pretty short flights, though still, we’re increasingly seeing airlines introduce at least some of those amenities.

ITA Airways business class amenities

There wasn’t much in the way of amenities on this short haul ITA Airways flight. There were no pillows, blankets, etc. The only real amenity was that a bottle of water was handed to each business class passenger during boarding.

ITA Airways A320 business class bottled water

ITA Airways A320 departure from Rome

By 10:05PM boarding was completed. That was quite efficient, given that the flight was mostly full. Business class was much emptier than economy, and was only half full, with three passengers (one in each window seat).

As soon as boarding finished and the door closed, the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr40min.

At 10:10PM we began our pushback, and at that point a manual safety demonstration was performed. At 10:15PM we began our taxi, and at 10:25PM we were cleared for takeoff.

Interestingly ITA doesn’t seem to really have a culture of turning off the seatbelt sign much, at least based on my two flights. For example, the seatbelt sign was never turned off on this flight, even though it was smooth the entire way. I’m not sure I follow the logic…

ITA Airways business class meal service

About 20 minutes after takeoff the cabin manager came to each business class passenger to take meal orders. The choices were either ravioli with ricotta and spinach, or veal. I chose the former, and it was served about 10 minutes later.

The meal was reasonably good — not as good as on the transatlantic flight, but still pretty good for a short haul flight.

ITA Airways business class meal

The pasta wasn’t quite restaurant quality, but was better than a frozen microwaved dinner.

ITA Airways business class meal

The side salad was more interesting than your typical airline one, though I don’t eat pork, so I skipped it.

ITA Airways business class meal

Then there was a chocolate muffin of sorts with cream for dessert.

ITA Airways business class meal

I ordered a glass of wine to go along with dinner, which oddly was served in a paper cup. Is that standard in ITA business class, or…?

At the conclusion of the meal I was asked if I wanted some coffee or tea. I ordered some coffee, and that was served in a proper cup.

ITA Airways business class meal

ITA Airways business class service

The service on this flight was totally okay. The flight attendants weren’t as proactive, friendly, and attentive as on the previous flight, but they also weren’t at all rude. They performed the service and then sat in the galley, but were responsive to the call button.

ITA Airways A320 business class lavatory

There was a lavatory at the front of the business class cabin, which was pretty basic. It also didn’t seem like it was cleaned between flights, since the below picture was taken shortly after boarding.

ITA Airways A320 business class lavatory

One thing that I found to be less than ideal is that ITA’s curtain between business class and economy class only goes over headrests, and doesn’t cover the center aisle. That’s not a huge deal, except for the fact that it meant that passengers kept coming up to use the business class lavatory, and the crew didn’t do much to stop it (despite announcing passengers should use the lavatory in their cabin).

ITA Airways A320 business class curtain

ITA Airways A320 arrival in Cairo

At 1:30AM Cairo time, the captain announced that we’d shortly be descending, and would be landing in around 30 minutes. Sure enough, we then began a pretty steep descent, and the crew prepared the cabin for arrival. We ended up touching down in Cairo at 1:55AM, and then had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate.

I was pleasantly surprised by how orderly the deplaning process was. I’ve flown to & from Cairo a lot, and in the past I’ve found that some passengers pretty consistently get up the second the plane is on the ground, and ignore crew instructions. That wasn’t an issue on this flight, and I suspect that’s because this flight seemed to consist mostly of Italian tourists.

Once in the terminal, my long night at Cairo Airport started…

Bottom line

My ITA Airways A320 business class flight was fine — nothing more and nothing less. I was on one of ITA’s older Airbus A320s, featuring no Wi-Fi, power outlets, or inflight entertainment. While the food on the flight was reasonably good, I found it strange that drinks were served out of paper cups.

I’d happily fly ITA’s A320 business class again if the price or routing were best, but I also wouldn’t seek out the product.

What do you make of ITA’s A320 business class?

Conversations (11)
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  1. Jo6Pak Guest

    why don't you eat pork?

  2. iamhere Guest

    In many areas you almost complain about how simple this flight was but you summarize to say that it was okay. It's a normal inter-European flight. Nothing more, nothing less. Almost seems you were expecting much more.

  3. vlcnc Guest

    Honestly European Business Class is pointless and one of the greatest scams ever. Basically offering people what used to be the norm in economy now in business with an empty middle seat. I honestly have no idea why people waste miles and effort trying to fly it - it really isn't worth it and the food isn't that good to justify the massive premiums charged.

    1. stogieguy7 Diamond

      I agree, it's a total scam. And the same smug Euro's who ridicule how we Americans refer to domestic business as "First Class" will turn around and offer up a garbage faux "business class" product that would be lackluster as an economy offering between Cleveland and St. Louis.

    2. Lukas Guest

      I fly a lot of intra-EU business, and I do agree that it's a joke compared to business class within the US, Asia, etc., but it's often reasonably priced and I do consider it to be worth it. Why? A. Bulkhead seating (and free seating). B. Good carry-on baggage allowance. C. No one next to you (which does make a HUGE difference). D. Easy way to earn more miles. If you're not an elite member...

      I fly a lot of intra-EU business, and I do agree that it's a joke compared to business class within the US, Asia, etc., but it's often reasonably priced and I do consider it to be worth it. Why? A. Bulkhead seating (and free seating). B. Good carry-on baggage allowance. C. No one next to you (which does make a HUGE difference). D. Easy way to earn more miles. If you're not an elite member it also provides you with free lounge access, priority queues, etc, which is a significant perk. That said, if you have the option and prioritize the onboard experience, you should go out of your way to fly with Turkish, since they (mostly) offer a really good intra-EU business with comfy seats and amazing legroom.

  4. Pete Guest

    Our best narrow-body intra-Europe biz flight was HEL-LHR on a Finnair A321, in 2019. There were six rows of biz and every seat was taken, but the two crew working the front were very, very senior and you could tell they'd been to this BBQ before.

    The flight back was the morning A350 service, which of course was like another world.

  5. Alex Guest

    Take a shot every time Ben mentions he doesn't eat pork.

    1. Chris Guest

      Glad to see the seat was comfortable. Slim line seats are an abomination. Beyond uncomfortable: they make my seat hurt!

    2. Dov Guest

      “Take a shot every time Ben mentions he doesn't eat pork.”

      And YOUR issue with that is what? Quite frankly, I am very surprised that ITA would serve any pork product on a flight to CAI given that observant Muslims don't eat pork.

  6. Maryland Guest

    Wine in a paper cup? I would feel like a kid sneaking a drink! The Italian way should at least be a jelly jar

  7. Bgriff Guest

    I flew Alitalia short haul business class a while back (well, I guess almost a decade ago now), and it's funny because the #1 thing I remember from that flight is how aggressively the business class FA kept economy passengers out of the forward lavatory, which was nearly a full-time job of constantly chasing off people coming up (through an aisle curtain, in those days) to use it. So, I guess that one way that ITA is no longer Alitalia.

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Alex Guest

Take a shot every time Ben mentions he doesn't eat pork.

5
stogieguy7 Diamond

I agree, it's a total scam. And the same smug Euro's who ridicule how we Americans refer to domestic business as "First Class" will turn around and offer up a garbage faux "business class" product that would be lackluster as an economy offering between Cleveland and St. Louis.

1
vlcnc Guest

Honestly European Business Class is pointless and one of the greatest scams ever. Basically offering people what used to be the norm in economy now in business with an empty middle seat. I honestly have no idea why people waste miles and effort trying to fly it - it really isn't worth it and the food isn't that good to justify the massive premiums charged.

1
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